Adultery – Does Cheating Matter in Divorces?
There are many reasons why people decide to end their marriage, and each circumstance is unique. However, an affair is often a deal breaker that leads to a final separation and divorce. Perhaps you have found out that your spouse was cheating on you or you may have been the one to stray from the marriage.
In many cases, we see clients who have gathered up a lot of evidence about their ex cheating. They may have text messages, facebook posts and even reports from private investigators. In many cases the innocent spouse is very hurt and angry and wants to punish the other side for what they did. Or, if you are the one who cheated, you may be afraid of the consequences.
Although adultery is one of the grounds for divorce, it is usually irrelevant for any other purpose. In other words, if you find out that your ex-spouse committed adultery, you can use this as a ground for divorce, meaning that you do not have to wait an entire year before ending your marriage. However, that’s about as far as adultery goes. The court does not care whose fault it was that the marriage ended or what you or your spouse did with anyone else.
In fact, both the Divorce Act of Canada and the Family Law Act of Manitoba expressly state that conduct is not relevant and is inadmissible unless it impacts the financial stability of the family or is relevant to an issue involving custody of children. In most cases, therefore, what you or your ex-spouse do in the privacy of your own home will not matter at all and will not be taken into account by the court. Committing adultery does not mean your or your spouse lose custody, or lose the right to support. Those are common misconceptions and completely inaccurate.
In some rare instances, the cheating or adultery may become relevant to financial issues. For example, if you or your spouse form a relationship with a drug addict or convicted child molester, that will obviously be relevant to custody of children. But in most cases, people form relationships with normal people who even if they are imperfect do not pose any risk to children and so the court will not be interested in stories of cheating or adultery. These are things you can discuss with your friends or counselor. But when it comes to divorce, whether contested or uncontested, adultery doesn’t matter in court.