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Will Michigan’s adultery law affect your future divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2023 | Divorce

Adultery or marital infidelity is a violation that can destroy your trust in another person and lead to the end of your relationship. Most people don’t treat adultery as seriously as they should given the psychological and financial damage it can cause for the person who didn’t cheat.

No-fault divorces likely in part contribute to the idea that infidelity doesn’t really matter anymore. Since there are no major penalties in family court, people pretend that cheating is acceptable or excusable behavior.

Michigan is one of a few states in the country that still criminalize adultery. In fact, in Michigan, extramarital affairs can lead to felony charges. When you know that your spouse has cheated on you, you may dream of going to court to get justice. Will the infidelity statute in Michigan influence your divorce?

Prosecution is highly uncommon

The sad truth for those harmed by a cheating spouse is that Michigan state prosecutors very rarely pursue infidelity charges even though the statute is still on the books. The rare scenarios in which prosecutors make use of that statute typically all involve some other kind of criminal activity, such as drug trafficking.

In other words, even if you have evidence gathered through painstaking research or by hiring a private investigator, the police likely won’t do much if you approach them with stories of infidelity.

What about the family courts?

No-fault divorce is the standard in Michigan, which means that you cannot initiate divorce proceedings because of infidelity in most cases. However, proof of marital misconduct could help during property division matters. The more marital resources your spouse spent on their affair, the larger the potential changes to the property division outcome.

Evidence of wasteful spending of marital assets, including funding an affair, can lead to a judge holding the cheating spouse accountable for their affair-related debts or reducing how much they receive from the marital estate. Although you may feel like cheating makes someone an unfit parent, a family law judge is unlikely to agree with that assertion unless the adultery led to some kind of abusive behavior or neglect of the children.

Once you understand the potential legal impact that your spouse’s cheating could have on your divorce, you can start to prepare your exit strategy. Preparing for your Michigan divorce often means learning more about how the state handles different marital matters in divorce court.