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!).
About Findling Law
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.
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By: Daniel Findling