Cheating scandals are commonplace in the news today, and many of these couples opt for a divorce.  While infidelity takes certain emotion and physical tolls, it may have a varying effect on divorce settlements and payments.

A No-Fault State

Minnesota is considered a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce, meaning that a couple can seek a divorce without needing to list specific reasons why they are separating.  In no fault states, affairs and infidelity are not taken into consideration as heavily as in other states.

In no fault states, financial settlements tend to be based on formulas.  So while you may feel that you are owed more money because of the emotional impact cheating has taken on you, the courts may not see it that way.

Silvana Roncal, who lives in the no fault state of Florida, learned that lesson the hard way.  Roncal caught her husband of 18 years cheating on her with their live-in nanny.  Roncal said she became severely depressed, so much so that she had to quit her job, nearly lost her home, and was forced to declare bankruptcy.  She thought she would be in line for a larger spousal support payment due to all the stress she had endured, but that couldn’t have been father from the truth.

Because her husband did not work during the marriage and is still without a job, Roncal was ordered to pay $2,500 a month to her former spouse.  Roncal was the primary breadwinner in the relationship, so the courts ruled that divorce would have larger economic ramifications for her husband.

“Florida is a no-fault state,” says Roncal. “They don’t care about what happens during the marriage.”

Getting a Larger Payout

Although Roncal’s case is one of warning, there are ways a person who was cheated on can get a larger payout.

  • Through a prenuptial agreement – Couples can stipulate possible payments in the event that an affair occurs during the marriage.  These can range from increased monthly payments to other holdings like property or real estate.  Couples can decide that in the event of an affair, one party gets the rights to the house, the car, or an extra $1,000 a month.
  • If the cheating spouse spent a lot of money in conjunction with the affair – If a husband bought a car for his mistress, or if a wife rented out an apartment to conduct the affair, the cheating party may have to reciprocate their spouse.  For example, if a cheater rents a $2,000 a month apartment for a year to conduct the affair, a judge may order the party to pay $24,000 to their ex-spouse.
  • There’s evidence of spousal abuse – For a party to be awarded an increased settlement under this provision, there needs to be clear evidence that the abuse was above and beyond the scope of normal decency.  “If a husband flaunts his affair in his wife’s face, or it can be shown he was ignoring his kids and other family responsibilities, that might be a contributing factor,” said Robert Wallack, a New York matrimonial lawyer.