Adultery and Alimony in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, adultery is generally defined as a married person engaging in voluntary sexual relations with a person other than his or her spouse. In addition to being one of several “fault grounds” giving rise to a complaint in divorce, one spouse’s extramarital affair can carry a lasting impact throughout the pendency of a Pennsylvania divorce case. In some cases, adultery can preclude the offending spouse from receiving an award of alimony. Here’s how.
- Proving Adultery- In order to defeat a claim for alimony, the party alleging adultery must first prove with convincing evidence that the adulterous affair occurred. Credit card statements, hotel receipts, phone records, text messages, photos, and videos will go a long way in this regard. Parties suspecting that their spouse is engaged in an affair may even enlist the services of a private investigator to prove or disprove their suspicions.
- Connecting the Dots- Proving that the affair took place is only the first step. Next, the party alleging adultery must point to the adulterous affair as the reason for separation/divorce. The amount of time that lapses between discovering the affair and filing for divorce is one indicator that courts will consider. If the affair was discovered and then forgiven, whereby parties decided to work through their issues and rehabilitate their marriage, it will be very difficult for the injured spouse to later point to their spouse’s past affair as the reason for their eventual separation and divorce.
- The “Clean Hands” Requirement- In order that one spouse can use adultery to defeat a claim for alimony, they must not have committed adultery themselves. Similarly, they must not have consented to the affair and/or participated in the affair alongside their partner.
Where these three prongs are met, a party whose extramarital affair results in the dissolution of a marriage will have great difficulty convincing the Courts that they should be awarded alimony. If you suspect that your spouse may be engaging in an extramarital affair, call and speak with one of our skilled family law attorneys today. Click or Call 610-892-3877