When you and your spouse married, you made promises to love and remain faithful to one another for the rest of your days.
But somewhere in the time that’s passed since that day, one – or both – of you have strayed from that vow and had an affair. Now, you want a divorce.
Because each state is different, the rules for whether or not infidelity can play a role in the divorce proceedings, and how big of an impact it may have, varies.
If you’re getting a divorce in Maryland, here’s what you need to know about infidelity:
Can I Use Infidelity As a Grounds for My Divorce?
When you file for divorce in Maryland, there are two options: Absolute divorce and limited divorce.
An absolute divorce is what many people think of as just “getting a divorce.” When the court grants you and your spouse an absolute divorce, you are legally divorced and your marriage is terminated. On the other hand, a limited divorce means the court has officially recognized that you are living separately, allowing the court to make orders about your living situations and support. If you and your spouse are granted a limited divorce, you are still legally married and neither party can remarry.
If you are seeking an absolute divorce in Maryland, you can use adultery of your spouse as grounds for divorce. Using adultery as grounds in your divorce means you don’t need to go through a waiting period before your petition can be filed.
Grounds means a legal basis for the court to grant a judgment in your case. If your spouse cheats and you file for divorce on the grounds of adultery, the court can grant you a divorce.
Some grounds require a period of separation – up to one year – before a divorce can be granted. However, there is no separation period requirement with adultery, meaning you can file for your divorce and potentially be granted that divorce more quickly.
What If I Knew My Spouse Was Cheating and Didn’t File for Divorce?
If your spouse has a history of infidelity and you have, in the past, attempted to reconcile or otherwise did not request a divorce after finding out, you could lose the ability to use adultery as grounds for your divorce.
However, just because your spouse cheated in the past and you forgave those incidents, the court won’t automatically deny your petition. The court will consider each case separately based on its own individual merits.
Can a Cheating Spouse Gain Me the Upper Hand in My Divorce?
When it comes to whether or not your spouse’s infidelity will give you a better position for child custody, child support, or alimony, it’s unlikely to have an impact except in very specific situations.
Your spouse’s cheating certainly proves they are a less-than-ideal partner, but it says nothing about their fitness to parent.
Unless you can prove that your spouse put your child in direct danger while meeting up with a paramour, simply proving adultery alone will not be enough for a court to grant you sole custody. Additionally, a spouse’s cheating is not going to impact the amount of child support you will receive.
Cheating also does not automatically disqualify a spouse from requesting spousal support.
If you are the main income-earner in your marriage, your spouse can still request alimony in the event that they have other reasons to receive it, such as staying at home to care for children while you worked, or needing some extra time to receive job training.
Infidelity that caused the breakdown of a marriage can, however, impact the amount of time you may be required to pay spousal support. Again, this is all considered by the court on a case-by-case basis and is not guaranteed.
How Do I Prove Adultery?
If you plan to file for divorce on the grounds that your spouse had an affair, you will need to provide the court with proof of this infidelity.
Things such as emails, text messages, and even credit card receipts can be used to prove that your spouse was having an affair.
However, you must be careful when collecting this evidence. While your spouse’s email account or cell phone can be a gold mine of potential evidence, a court can deny your right to present that evidence if it is determined you gained it illegally, such as hacking into your spouse’s email.
If you plan to prove adultery as a grounds for your divorce, it is important that you meet with an attorney as soon as you find out about the affair to receive guidance on how best to pursue your case.
How Else May Infidelity Affect My Divorce in Maryland?
In some cases, a spouse has spent marital funds on the person with whom they are cheating. Taking secret trips, renting hotel rooms for meetings, and buying gifts are all common ways that a spouse may use marital funds when being unfaithful.
You should not be required to pay back debt accrued by your spouse in these cases, nor should you take a financial hit in the withdrawals from your checking or savings account as a result.
If your spouse has used marital funds to pay for things related to their cheating, they may be found to have committed marital waste, or the depletion of marital funds on things that aren’t benefiting the marriage. In these cases, you may be credited with an amount equal to the money your spouse spent on their affair when assets are divided.
Experienced Attorney for Infidelity in Maryland
If you suspect your spouse has cheated on you and you want to pursue a divorce, it’s essential that you speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. They can help you determine your next steps and prepare for the divorce that’s ahead of you.
At the Law Office of Sandra Guzman-Salvado, we have years of experience guiding clients through divorce proceedings that resulted from spousal infidelity. Let us help you – Call today for a consultation!