Misconduct means different things to different people. To the non-lawyer misconduct means infidelity, criminal actions (minor and severe), emotional and psychological abuse, and other things. Thus, can alimony be altered based on marital misconduct? Does a cheating spouse get alimony? Do you have to pay more alimony if you cheated?
The answer is no. Except when it isn’t.
The statute clearly states that the amount and duration of alimony is to be considered “without regard to marital misconduct.” Indeed, this is consistent with the provisions throughout the domestic relations statutory scheme. It also applies to the person seeking alimony and the person from whom alimony is sought. If your spouse is cheating on you, that alone is not grounds nor is it a factor in a alimony case. Its the effects of the adultery, not the actual act, which can get someone in trouble.
What if your spouse was cheating on you and depleted the marital estate? What if someone goes to jail, for example, and now has reduced living expenses. Colorado courts have held that marital misconduct may consider any economic circumstances resulting from a party’s marital misconduct. This includes depletion of the marital estate and reduction of his or her financial needs and ability to meet living expenses.
To be sure, although marital misconduct shouldn’t be completely discounted this exception should not be used to impugn or attack the other party directly. Doing so will likely both waste time and detract from your case in chief. But if the economic misconduct depleted the marital estate, for example, there might be a good reason to bring it up. It’s just tricky to bring it up in the right way and for the right reasons.
It’s always important to keep in mind the purpose of alimony – ensuring that the basic needs of a disadvantaged spouse are met if there is no other feasible source from which the support can be derived. A cheating spouse is not mentioned here. A cheating spouse who has wasted all of the marital estates funds? Maybe. It depends on the case as a whole. Each case is different. Make sure to call us today for more information alimony and marital mis-conduct.