When you say “I do,” you say it with plans of forever in mind. But sometimes, life gets in the way and you find yourself falling out of love with your partner, and potentially in love with someone new. New love can make you feel bold or reckless, or impatient for your new life to begin.
Under the most convenient of circumstances, that new love comes after you are divorced. In many cases, though, it is what leads to the divorce – and if you are the partner who needs spousal support to survive, cheating on your partner could have some negative effects.
Is infidelity a ground for divorce?
In Tennessee, a divorce may be obtained through one of two ways: a no-fault divorce, or by proving fault through any number of grounds, including adultery. Fault is proven through evidence, including giving testimony, that the affair was the primary reason for the breakup of your marriage. If your spouse can show this, you could lose your opportunity to be awarded spousal support.
Does adultery affect alimony?
While adultery is not a complete bar to alimony in Tennessee, the court has the authority to deny spousal support to a cheating spouse. Your spouse only needs to prove that you had the opportunity and inclination to have a sexual relationship with another individual. That means that even if the affair is only emotional, but you are spending time together, you may still be putting yourself at risk. A judge weighs adultery along with other factors in deciding whether you should be awarded any alimony at all, or whether to use the marital fault as a means to reduce the amount you otherwise would have received.
If you committed adultery, but your spouse permitted it or forgave you and carried on with your marriage even once the affair ended, your instance of adultery will not likely prevent you from receiving an award of alimony.
If you happen to be the spouse who earns more, and therefore are the one in the position to pay alimony, you probably won’t be penalized for committing adultery by being ordered to pay your spouse more.
The factors a judge considers in weighing an alimony award in Tennessee
- The earning potential of each spouse
- Financial resources of each spouse, including retirement plans
- Length of marriage
- Education and job training of each spouse
- Age and mental condition of each spouse
- The physical condition of each spouse, including illness or disease
- Childcare duties of each spouse
- Each spouse’s share of property division
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
- Financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage
- Fault of each spouse in causing the divorce, and
- Any other relevant factors
If you have committed adultery and believe that it is time to seek a divorce, you need the experienced legal representation of the Nashville divorce attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC. Our understanding and caring family law attorneys will deal with your concerns head on about payment of alimony or being denied spousal support so that you know where you stand before beginning your divorce. To reserve an in-person or video consultation in our office, call 615-454-9899, or reach out to us through our contact page.
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Karla C. Miller has devoted her entire career to the practice of family law in Tennessee. She attended Auburn University and Nashville School of Law, and upon graduation in 1996, she opened her own law firm and has been assisting families throughout Tennessee since then. Learn more about Karla C. Miller here.