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Will Cheating Affect My Divorce Case?

Law Office of Joshua S. Reed  Dec. 20, 2023

According to Statista, in 2021, around 21 percent of respondents in the United States admitted to have cheated on any partner, current or previous. This percentage is the second highest it’s been since 1960.  

Usually, there is emotional turmoil and guilt that accompanies infidelity, especially when it leads to the dissolution of a marriage. You may be feeling lost, confused, and unsure of what the future holds. Rest assured, we are here to help you navigate through this trying time. Our team is committed to providing you with the support and legal guidance necessary to make informed decisions about your divorce case. 

Our firm, the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, is based in Knoxville and Farragut, Tennessee. We proudly extend our services to clients throughout Anderson, Blount, Union, Maryville, Oak Ridge, Loudon, and Clinton counties. Our deep community roots and comprehensive understanding of local divorce laws allow us to provide unparalleled legal services tailored to the unique needs of each client. 

How Cheating Affects Divorce Proceedings in Tennessee

Every divorce case is unique and carries its own set of challenges. Infidelity or cheating is a sensitive issue that can significantly influence the course of divorce proceedings in Tennessee. 

Tennessee law allows for divorce on both fault and no-fault grounds: 

No-Fault Divorce: 

  • The spouses do not assign blame to either party for the breakdown of the marriage. 

  • The reason provided for the divorce is typically "irreconcilable differences." 

Fault Divorce: One spouse's behavior led to the breakdown of the marriage. 

Fault grounds for divorce in Tennessee include: 

  • Adultery 

  • Willful or malicious desertion for one whole year without a reasonable cause 

  • Being convicted of a crime that renders the party infamous 

  • Being convicted of a crime that, by the laws of the state, renders the party ineligible to marry. 

  • Attempted murder of the other spouse 

  • Refusal, on the part of a spouse, to move to Tennessee without a reasonable cause and being willfully absent from the spouse residing in Tennessee for two years 

  • Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse 

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct towards the spouse as to render cohabitation unsafe and improper 

When infidelity is the ground for divorce, it adds an extra layer of complexity to the case. Not only does it introduce intense emotions into the proceedings, but it can also impact property division, alimony, and child custody decisions. 

In terms of property division, Tennessee operates under an equitable distribution law. This means that marital assets and debts are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. If it's proven that marital funds were used to support the affair, it could potentially influence this division. 

Navigating these legal waters can be stressful, but you're not alone. Speak with a reliable attorney for knowledgeable legal advice. 

Child Custody Considerations in Cases Involving Infidelity

When it comes to divorce proceedings, child custody is often one of the most emotionally charged topics. If infidelity was involved, the matter can become even more complex.  

In cases where a spouse has committed adultery, it's important to know that the court's primary concern is always the welfare and best interests of the child. Judges consider a wide range of factors when making custody decisions, including: 

  • The love, affection, and emotional ties existing between the parents and child. 

  • The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education, and other necessary care. 

  • The degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver. 

  • The importance of continuity in the child's life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment. 

  • The stability of the family unit of the parents. 

  • The mental and physical health of the parents. 

  • The home, school, and community record of the child. 

  • The reasonable preference of the child if 12 years of age or older. 

  • Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent, or to any other person. 

While adultery itself may not directly affect custody decisions, it can be a factor if it has disrupted the child's living situation or caused emotional harm. For instance, if the cheating spouse moved the lover into the marital home or exposed the child to multiple partners, the court may take this into account. 

Furthermore, if the unfaithful spouse diverted significant marital resources to the affair, it could raise questions about their financial responsibility and ability to provide for the child's needs. 

In uncontested divorces, where both spouses agree on custody arrangements, the court will typically approve the agreement as long as it's in the child's best interests. 

It's essential to remember that every case is unique. Therefore, don't let the stress of divorce and custody battles overwhelm you. We're here for you, ready to provide the personalized service you deserve. 

Alimony Considerations in Cases Involving Infidelity

Alimony, or spousal support, is another area where infidelity can have implications. In Tennessee, the court may award alimony based on various factors, including:  

  • Whether one spouse is naturally impotent and incapable of procreation. 

  • If a party knowingly entered into a second marriage while still married. 

  • If one spouse committed adultery during the marriage. 

  • The occurrence of willful or malicious desertion by one spouse. 

  • If one spouse has been convicted of a crime that reflects negatively on their character or ability to fulfill marital duties. 

  • Instances where one spouse attempted to take the life of the other. 

  • Habitual drunkenness or drug abuse by one spouse, impacting their ability to contribute to the marriage or causing harm to the other spouse. 

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment or conduct from one spouse towards the other, causing physical harm or severe emotional distress. 

If the unfaithful spouse used marital funds to support the affair, causing economic harm to the other spouse, this could be considered when determining the amount and duration of alimony. It's important to be aware of these potential implications as you proceed with your divorce case. 

Legal Strategies and Options for Cheating Spouses

If you're worried about how your infidelity might impact your divorce case, it's crucial that you seek professional legal advice. Our family law attorneys can help you understand your options and develop a strategy tailored to your specific situation. 

One option could be negotiating a settlement agreement outside of court. This approach can help minimize the emotional and financial costs associated with a lengthy court battle. Alternatively, we can assist in gathering evidence and building a strong defense against any allegations of fault. 

Legal Advice When You Need It

Navigating a divorce case involving infidelity can be overwhelming. But remember: you're not alone. We at the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed are here to provide the guidance and support you need during this challenging time. Our deep understanding of Tennessee divorce laws and our commitment to our clients allows us to offer personalized legal solutions designed to protect your interests. Reach out to us today, and let us help you navigate through this complex process one step at a time.