Family Matters.
When It Really Matters.

My spouse had an affair. Will I have to pay them alimony?

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2022 | Family Law, Spousal Support

If your spouse had an affair, you likely do not want to pay them alimony nor do you think you should have to. Still, infidelity does not automatically negate any chance of alimony. This is because adultery is generally not a factor considered when awarding alimony.

Alimony factors in California

When a court in California awards alimony, it will consider several statutory factors. The court will consider:

  • How much each spouse earns and whether they can support the standard of living they had while married
  • Whether one spouse needs to find a job, what the job market looks like and whether a spouse needs to go back to school to get a job
  • Whether one spouse remained unemployed while married to raise the family
  • The extent to which one spouse contributed to the education or career of the other spouse
  • The paying spouse’s ability to pay spousal support given their income and standard of living
  • Each spouse’s needs and obligations
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • How old and healthy each spouse is
  • Whether domestic violence has occurred

These are only some of the factors a California court will consider when awarding alimony.

One caveat

As this shows, adultery is not listed under state statutes as a specific factor to consider when awarding alimony. Still, there is one caveat.

The final statutory factor in determining alimony is any factor that is “just and equitable.” So, it is theoretically possible that a judge could find one spouse’s unfaithfulness so heinous that it would not be just to make the faithful spouse pay them alimony.

However, that is unlikely to happen. Alimony is not meant to be punitive. It is based on one spouse’s need for financial support and the other spouse’s ability to provide that support.

If your spouse has an affair, it is natural to feel angry and devastated. You want to get back at them but denying them alimony is not generally an option if they are owed this support under California statutes. Sometimes, the best way to move forward is to simply make sure the rest of your divorce is fair, and your interests are well-represented and advocated for.