Does Cheating Affect Alimony in Kansas?

Nearly 1 million marriages end in dissolution each year in the United States. There are a few key reasons couples decide to divorce, but each divorce is unique. Even after years of marriage, spouses might end up with disagreements over issues like money, child-rearing or what the future holds, which simply can’t be reconciled. Sometimes, they just drift apart.

And oftentimes, one of the root causes of a failed marriage is adultery. When one spouse discovers the other has been cheating on them, the feelings of betrayal are so overwhelming that it becomes impossible to move on with the marriage.

If a couple is starting a divorce proceeding where adultery played a key role in the decision to split up, both of them — the spouse who was cheating or the one who felt victimized by it — may be asking themselves the same question: how will this affect the divorce itself? To answer that question, it’s always wise to seek the advice of a seasoned divorce lawyer. 

Here, we’ll look at how adultery might impact either a divorce or alimony payments in Kansas.

How Does Adultery Impact a Divorce in Kansas?

While not every couple divorces when they discover their spouse has been cheating on them, for those who feel there’s no way to save the marriage, it’s important to note that in Kansas, adultery is not grounds for divorce. Judges will not consider it when deciding whether to grant a divorce. However, in several indirect ways, cheating might affect the amount in alimony payments that spouses are required to make after divorce. But even that won’t be true in all cases.

First, it’s important to note that, while many states have shifted exclusively to “no-fault” divorces, where the issue of adultery isn’t relevant at all, Kansas allows for both no-fault and fault-based divorce. In a no-fault divorce, one or both spouses simply declares that their marriage can’t be saved.

In fault divorces, decisions made by the judge are based on wrongful behavior — or “marital misconduct.” In Kansas, the at-fault grounds for divorce is a failure to perform a marital duty or obligation. Examples of that can include:

  • Abandonment
  • Abuse
  • Cruelty
  • Chemical dependency
  • Adultery

However, infidelity is usually viewed as being irrelevant to most financial issues in a Kansas divorce. Put another way, adultery usually doesn’t affect issues like:

  • Equitable distribution of property
  • Child custody
  • Child support 

So when it adultery relevant? One instance is when a spouse engages in what is considered the waste of marital assets, such as diverting marital assets to a lover outside the marriage. In these instances, the judge might decide on equalizing assets, meaning an equitable division of the married couple’s joint property.

It’s also possible a judge could give the cheating parent less parenting time with their child if that spouse had been ignoring the child because they were with their lover instead.

In other words, the issue before the judge isn’t that the spouse engaged in an inappropriate relationship during the marriage, but instead is their financial or parenting conduct that resulted from it.

How Does Adultery Affect Alimony Rules in Kansas?

Marital fault — including adultery — only rarely gets considered by Kansas courts when making decisions about alimony. So what might be considered a “run-of-the-mill adultery situation” wouldn’t count. 

In Kansas, alimony is known as “spousal maintenance,” and the law doesn’t provide a list of factors that the courts need to consider when spousal maintenance is awarded. In fact, the court is given full discretion to award any type of spousal maintenance that the judge considers fair and equitable. 

Kansas Courts have established a few guidelines for the courts to consider when awarding a fair amount of spousal support. These guidelines may include: 

  • The earning capabilities of each spouse
  • The ages of each spouse
  • The amount of property owned by each spouse after the divorce
  • Each spouse’s financial needs
  • The family members each spouse has to rely on for support
  • The length of their marriage
  • The spouse’s health or ability to work
  • Whether one spouse has income-producing assets

So, does an extramarital relationship affect the amount of spousal support? In the past, Kansas courts have sometimes used fault on the part of either spouse as a factor in determining spousal support. While the Kansas Supreme Court has argued that economic factors should be more important than fault, the consideration of fault is ultimately left to the judge hearing the case. Technically, the courts can consider adultery as a factor in awarding additional spousal support, or in reducing the award of spousal support to an adulterous spouse. 

A divorce based on adultery may be a complicated proceeding, and each case will be viewed differently. That’s why it’s important to find a skilled divorce attorney who can best protect your rights while working to ensure you succeed in your divorce litigation.

Experienced Kansas Divorce Attorney Ready to Help

Going through a divorce is never easy, and it can be a highly emotional journey. Sometimes, it’s not possible to reach an agreement with an estranged spouse. 

When these situations occur, you need a devoted advocate to litigate for you. Joseph T. Welsh, Attorney at Law is a reputable divorce lawyer in the state of Kansas with experience helping countless families navigate through these difficult times. His extensive expertise mediating in and out of the courtroom will guide you in making these delicate, emotionally involved decisions.

Contact the Joseph T. Welsh Law Firm today at (620) 510-5030 or complete our contact form for a free consultation to evaluate your current divorce situation and learn about the next steps to get the decision you need.