Will I Get More if my Spouse Was Cheating?

Did you marriage end because your spouse was cheating on you?  If so, are you entitled to better custody terms or property division as a result?

In Wisconsin, courts do not generally take into account the fact that one of the spouses may be “responsible” for the marriage ending due to infidelity.  Instead, property division, child custody, and parenting time are usually determined independently of whose behavior caused the marriage to fail.

Property Division

As a starting point in Wisconsin, the assumption is that property will be divided equally.  There are factors that can influence an award of more property to one spouse than the other, such as whether one spouse brought in significantly more assets to the marriage, including items such as an inheritance.  However, the fact that one spouse may have been cheating will not in itself entitle the non-cheating spouse to more property.

Child Custody and Parenting Time

Similar to property division, courts will not take into account the fact that one spouse may have been cheating in determining child custody and parenting time.  The assumption will be that both parents are entitled to parenting time with the children, and that the children will benefit the best by spending quality time with each parent.

Primary custody is usually determined by a number of factors, including the age of the children and which parent has been providing the most “hands-on” support for the children.

The ongoing behavior of a spouse, however, can impact a determination of primary custody.  If one spouse is engaging in behavior that may be detrimental to raising children -such as going out most nights, frequently having girlfriends or boyfriends spend the night, etc. – this conduct may be taken into consideration in an award of custody.

Parenting time will usually only be denied or severely limited in extenuating circumstances, such as where drug abuse, physical or sexual abuse, or other behavior that poses a risk to the welfare of the children is involved.  To learn more about the legal aspects that may apply to your case, please call me.