Can Adultery Impact Alimony in Maryland?

It’s no secret that countless marriages are destroyed by infidelity each and every year. If your marriage has been destroyed because someone was unfaithful, you may be wondering if the cheating spouse can be barred from receiving alimony due to marital misconduct, and reasonably so. This is one question that is asked by innocent and cheating spouses alike.

Each state handles adultery differently. Some states like California, have little to no interest in infidelity, while other states frown heavily upon adultery and if it can be proven that a spouse cheated, he or she can be barred from receiving alimony (also called spousal support). So, how does Maryland treat infidelity, and can it prevent a cheating spouse from receiving it? Read on as we answer this very common question.

Maryland is a Mixed State

Maryland is a “mixed state” in that it grants both no-fault and fault-based divorces. If someone were to ask for a fault-based divorce, he or she can petition the court based on one of the following fault-based grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Insanity (a severe mental illness)
  • Cruelty toward the spouse or their child (domestic violence)
  • Conduct that is excessively vicious
  • Desertion (where a spouse abandons or leaves the other spouse)
  • Conviction of a crime where a spouse has a minimum three-year sentence in prison

For a spouse in Maryland to get a divorce based on the fault-based ground, adultery, he or she will have to prove to the court that the other spouse had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse. If the innocent spouse can prove extra-marital relations, the judge can grant a divorce based on the fault-based ground, adultery.

If you seek to have a divorce granted based on adultery, realize that it can have an impact on child custody, so it’s important to discuss this with an attorney before you decide to file a fault-based divorce.

Can Alimony Be Barred Due to Adultery?

Suppose you decided to obtain a divorce based on the fault-based ground adultery, and it’s granted. Does that mean your cheating spouse will be barred from receiving alimony from you? In a word, “No.” In Maryland, even if a judge finds that your spouse committed adultery and your divorce is granted on that ground, it can’t be used against your spouse when it comes to awarding alimony.

In Maryland, the only time judges can consider adultery is when it affects the supported spouse’s economic circumstances. For example, if a cheating husband was the breadwinner and he used the couple’s money to pay for lavish vacations, hotel rooms, plastic surgery, or expensive jewelry for his girlfriend on the side, his behavior has most likely affected his wife’s finances – in such cases adultery can be considered.

If you have further questions about adultery or alimony in a Maryland divorce, feel free to contact the Law Office of Nicholas T. Exarhakis.

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