What Are Your Rights If Your Partner Commits Adultery

Discovering that your partner commits adultery may signal the beginning of the end of your relationship. You might think their adultery will benefit you financially or affect child custody arrangements when you seek to divorce your spouse. Despite the emotional toll an affair may take on you after your marriage, it is of little, if any, benefit because Iowa is a “no-fault” divorce state. Here, the attorneys at Arenson Law Group, PC discuss how one spouse’s infidelity will affect your divorce proceedings.

What Does “No-Fault” Divorce Mean?

States recognize either “fault” or “no-fault” divorce. In a “fault” divorce, one spouse must assert on what ground they are filing for divorce. Although the grounds vary among the states, adultery or infidelity is often a basis for filing for divorce. Other states, including Iowa, are “no-fault” divorce states. Rather than alleging grounds for a divorce, the spouse petitioning for divorce need only state that the marriage is irretrievably broken. While an adulterous affair may serve as proof of the irreparable breakdown of the marriage, the court does not require any grounds for divorce to be stated. In other words, no mention of infidelity is required.

Does Your Partner’s Adultery Affect How Your Property is Divided?

No, if your partner commits adultery, it does not affect how a court divides property between the couple. Iowa is an “equitable distribution” state. That means that the court divides all property, regardless of whether it was acquired before or during the marriage, in a way the court finds equitable. Under Iowa law, the court considers several factors when distributing property. These include the length of the marriage. Each party’s economic contribution to the marriage. Each party’s earning capacity. The property brought to the marriage by each party and the age and emotional health of the parties.

The exception to this is inherited property or property given or expected as a gift.

How Does Your Partner’s Adultery Affect Alimony?

The Iowa spousal support statute does not list one spouse’s infidelity as a basis for awarding spousal support. Instead, the court will review the following factors when considering whether to award spousal support:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of the parties
  • The equitable distribution of marital property
  • The educational level of the parties when they entered into the marriage and when seeking divorce
  • The earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance
  • The potential tax consequences to each party
  • Any mutual agreement between the parties concerning future compensation
  • The terms of an antenuptial agreement
  • Any other factors the court may find relevant

Iowa has three primary kinds of spousal support: traditional, rehabilitative, and reimbursement, with a more minor form called “transitional” spousal support. Regardless of the nature of the support and how it is identified, any spousal support ordered by the court is designed to assist one spouse financially after the marriage is dissolved or to reimburse them for the financial assistance provided during the marriage.

Spousal support is in no way punitive. An order of spousal support does not punish the spouse who committed adultery within the marriage. Because affairs are common, it is unlikely an Iowa court would award spousal support based solely on an affair.

Does a Spouse’s Adultery Affect Child Support or Child Custody?

What Are Your Rights If Your Partner Commits AdulteryLike many states, Iowa has child support guidelines that dictate how much monthly support one spouse has to pay to the other spouse who has primary custody of the children. The guidelines are set by a mathematical formula established by the Iowa Supreme Court. Although Iowa law allows some deviation from the statutory child support guidelines, the court will likely not consider adultery when ordering child support.

However, when setting custody arrangements, the court may consider whether one partner’s adultery harmed the couple’s children. That being said, one party’s adultery will not solely dictate custody. The best interests of the child, rather than one parent’s affair, will have a more significant impact on the custody order. Because the affair can negatively impact the couple’s ability to communicate and allow the children to have positive parental relationships with each parent, one party’s indiscretions may be considered as the court looks at the totality of the circumstances.

Contact an Iowa Divorce Attorney Today

At Arenson Law Group, PC, we understand you may struggle to pick up the pieces after discovering that your partner commits adultery. Our experienced dissolution of marriage attorneys will offer their compassionate support while providing the high-quality legal services our clients have come to expect. We are here to answer any questions as you contemplate ending your marriage. Call us today at (319) 363-8199 to discuss your case.

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Written by James H. Arenson

Last Updated : December 18, 2023