Berman & Asbel, LLP

Cheating may not affect Pennsylvania property division

Pennsylvania spouses who are in the early stages of divorce, or who are considering filing for divorce, may be surprised to learn that the presence of an affair does not always affect the financial outcome of a divorce proceeding. When we take our vows, most of us take the promise to be faithful and honest very seriously. When it becomes clear that our partner does not share those same values, the result can be the devastation of the marriage. However, when it comes to matters concerning property division, who cheated on whom may have little-to-nothing to do with the resolution.

Property division is often accomplished through a simple mathematical formula, in which morals and ethics play no role. In fact, it is entirely possible that the spouse who cheated could end up receiving, not paying, spousal support. There are several exceptions that allow cheating to factor into the division of marital property, but they require either advance planning or careful documentation.

In some cases, a couple has a prenuptial agreement that clearly outlines what the financial repercussions will be if one partner cheats and the other can prove the infidelity. In other cases, if the cheating spouse has spent considerable family assets in order to continue the affair, the scorned spouse may have an avenue to recourse for those expenses. However, this approach will require not only proof of the affair but also proof that money was spent to conduct the indiscretion.

Whenever a spouse suspects cheating and is considering a divorce, the first step is to gain full knowledge of one's rights under Pennsylvania divorce law. Moving forward fully armed will give one the upper hand at the outset of the process, which can lead to sufficient momentum to reach a successful property division settlement. No matter how distressing an affair feels at the time it is discovered, it is imperative to remember that a series of rational, well-informed decisions made now will have lasting financial ramifications.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorce And Affairs: Does Cheating Cost You In A Divorce?" Geoff Williams, Dec. 18, 2012

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