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Will Cheating Affect My Divorce Case?

Shelly Jean John, Attorney at Law Oct. 1, 2021

When married individuals are unhappy in their marriage, they are more likely to end up having an affair. But can cheating affect your divorce case in California? Statistically speaking, men are more likely to cheat. According to the Institute for Family Studies, 20% of men admit to having sex with someone other than their spouse during their marriage, while only 13% of women reported cheating on their spouse.

When infidelity becomes a reason for divorce, spouses may wonder, “Does cheating impact any aspects of my divorce, including alimony, child custody, or division of property?” If adultery was a factor in ending your marriage, contact me at the Law Office of Shelly Jean John to discuss your particular situation and determine how cheating could affect your divorce case.

I proudly serve clients throughout Riverside and San Bernardino counties.


California is a no-fault divorce state, which means the state’s divorce law does not require parties to prove the other spouse’s fault to get a divorce. California Family Code § 2310 recognizes two grounds for seeking a divorce:

  • Your spouse has incurable insanity; and

  • You and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, which broke down your marriage to the point that it cannot be saved.

California’s no-fault divorce law means that spouses are not required to go to court and prove that their spouse did something wrong or engaged in marital misconduct, such as cheating.


Although California is a no-fault divorce state, cheating might still play a role in your divorce proceedings. In particular, adultery might impact three aspects of your divorce:

  1. Alimony. Generally speaking, judges do not consider spouses’ cheating or other types of marital misconduct when awarding alimony. However, judges in California courts have some discretion when deciding on the amount and duration of spousal support. California Family Code § 4320 outlines the factors that courts must consider when awarding alimony, and adultery is not one of them.

  2. Child custody. In the vast majority of divorce cases involving minor children, either parent’s infidelity does not have any effect on child custody. The only exception to the general rule is if the parent’s cheating affects their parenting, causes them to neglect the child, or otherwise negatively affects the child’s physical or emotional wellbeing.

  3. Property division. In most cases, cheating does not affect the division of assets unless the cheating spouse spent a large amount of money on their affair using marital assets, such as giving expensive gifts or going on vacation.

If you are concerned about the potential impact of adultery on the outcome of your divorce, consider speaking with our attorney at the Law Office of Shelly Jean John to talk about your situation and discuss your legal rights. While adultery may not have a direct effect on your divorce, it may impact the distribution of your marital assets and debts, child custody rights, and an alimony award.


While most people frown upon cheating in a marriage, adultery may not affect your divorce case. However, in some cases, a spouse’s adultery during the marriage could play a role in many aspects of the divorce. I have the experience and resources you need and I am dedicated to helping individuals understand their rights when seeking a divorce in Ontario, Riverside County, or San Bernardino County. At the Law Office of Shelly Jean John, I also offer services on a limited scope basis (Lawyer for a Day) to help people handle certain aspects of their case without having to hire a lawyer for a full divorce case.