Adultery and Michigan divorce

The crime of adultery and Michigan divorce law.

Cheating on your spouse in Michigan is a felony.  Typically, felonies are crimes punishable by a minimum of one year in jail.  Contrary to popular belief,  adultery is still a crime in Michigan, however application of the statute can lead to an absurd and unfair result.



The adultery statute is found in the Michigan penal code Act 328 of 1931, which is published in section 750.30 of the Michigan Compiled laws and provides as follows:

“Any person who shall commit adultery shall be guilty of a felony; and when the crime is committed between a married woman and a man who is unmarried, the man shall be guilty of adultery, and liable for the same punishment.” 

Applying the statute leads to the following conclusions:

  • If you are married and commit adultery, you have committed a crime;
  • If a single man commits adultery with a married woman, he has committed a crime;
  • If a single woman commits adultery with a married man she is not guilty of a crime.

The single woman exception is not likely an early iteration of woman’s rights, rather, the statute was most likely perpetuating the stereotypical notion that woman were victims of men’s predatory sexual nature.   That is, men not disclosing that they are married.

So how come are jails are not filled with cheating spouses?  The answer is simple, the Michigan adultery statute is never enforced.

However, adultery can be relevant in your Michigan divorce.  Our divorce attorneys are familiar with the impact of adultery on divorce.  Adultery can play a role in property division, child custody disputes and alimony considerations.   When I was a young Michigan divorce lawyer, I quickly learned that adultery can impede a divorce settlement.  If a spouse is hurt or angry about another’s affair, the emotional fallout can make your case more difficult to resolve, and consequently more expensive.

So, while the crime of adultery remains on the books, it is not enforced.  Notwithstanding, adultery can impact your Michigan divorce case.  If you are having an affair, contact our Michigan divorce lawyers before you tell your spouse (or before they find out!).

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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.

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By:  Daniel Findling

5 thoughts on “Adultery and Michigan divorce

  • Would a long distance emotional affair where my stbx wife has put my 7 year old son on the phone and this guy has sent my son gifts(to earn affection I suppose) weigh in my favor if I brought this up? My wife just had me served today with the base of the divorce being the breakdown of marriage typical generic reason, should I include this in my response letter? I don’t have an attorney because I can’t afford one and when I called for a bono lawyer they stated because there’s no domestic violence they can’t help me which was surprising but I’m left to respond to her complaint where she wants full custody when my son is used to seeing me everyday picking him up from school, doing his homework, making dinner, and going to work as he sleeps on 3rd shift so I can be there to pick him up from school everyday, since the separation I’ve changed my work schedule so I can be available to be home with him overnight but as soon as I did this she filed and served me for the POS schedule where me and son get only everyother weekend, what should I do so I can gain the 50-50 schedule my son deserves?

    • Certainly, your wife’s conduct does not appear to be in the best interest of the minor child. I would raise the issue in confidence before making a public record of it in a court pleading.

  • Michigan law favors a relationship with both parents and 50-50 parenting time is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Having an understanding of your sons needs, his teachers, friends and doctors names may provide evidence of your involvement. Simply put, a father is as important as a mother in a child’s life.


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