Adultery and divorce

Adultery is the ultimate betrayal and the cause of many divorces it is also a crime. Adultery is defined in the Michigan Penal Code Section 750.29 which defines adultery as:

50.29 Adultery; definition.
Sec. 29.
   Definition—Adultery is the sexual intercourse of 2 persons, either of whom is married to a third person.

Adultery and Divorce in Michigan

Interesting enough, other sexual acts, which may be equally offensive do not rise to the crime of adultery in Michigan.

The crime of adultery is defined in MCL 730.30 as a felony, which is a crime punishable for over one year. The statute of limitations on adultery is one year.

However, the crime of adultery is not enforced. It is an antiquated law which is on the books and ignored.

Adultery is still relevant in a Michigan divorce, especially if it is the cause of the breakdown of the marriage.

The past relations and conduct of a party may be taken into consideration when dividing property in a Michigan divorce. As a general proposition, property division in a Michigan divorce has to be equitable or fair. This is often (but not always a 50/50 division of property acquired during the marriage. It is not uncommon to see a modest penalty for fault in dividing property at trial.

The past relations and conduct of a party may also be taken into consideration when considering an alimony or or spousal support award. Cheating during marriage may result in a different term (years) or amount of an award if adultery caused the breakdown of the marriage.

To a lessor extent, cheating can impact a child custody determination if the paramour (the new boyfriend or girlfriend) was introduced to the children during the marriage. It is not uncommon for a parent to introduce his/her boyfriend or girlfriend which court’s frown upon as not being in a child’s best interest.

Although Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, that does not mean fault does not matter. No-fault divorce describes the ground for divorce (you don’t have to allege fault to get divorced). Fault matters and if adultery is the cause of the breakup it could impact the outcome of a divorce.



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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

By:  Daniel Findling

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