When contemplating a divorce in Ohio, many people ask the question about what role adultery plays.
The short answer is: Adultery is the only grounds for divorce in the state of Ohio.
But there is a longer answer to the question:
- Adultery is one of the fault grounds in a divorce in Ohio.
- Adultery does not play a role in financial aspects of a divorce case.
- A person is not penalized by the Court for engaging in Adultery.
- However, if minor children are involved, the issue of Adultery could play a role in a custody dispute if the paramour of a parent has “skeletons in the closet.” The Court must also determine if a parent has associates who may have a negative influence on the minor children.
How Can Adultery Become a Custody Issue?
The Court is concerned with what impact other people involved with one of the divorcing parents may have on the child or children. For example, if the child is exposed to inappropriate people due to the adulterous conduct of the parent, or if the child is asked to lie to facilitate adulterous behavior, Adultery could have an impact on child custody.
What is Adultery in Ohio?
The Ohio Revised Code does not give a specific definition for what constitutes Adultery. But, if a married person is willingly intimate with someone who is not his or her spouse, it is unlikely a judge would rule that the “jilted” spouse does not have a ground for divorce. In a legal definition, the concept of Adultery is based on the perpetrator’s marital status. A post-separation affair would legally be adulterous. Technically, the individual involved in the affair is still married and not yet divorced.
Proof of Adultery
When Adultery is used as grounds for divorce, the person claiming their spouse committed Adultery cannot rely on a belief that this is happening or has happened. One must be able to prove the misconduct with “clear and convincing evidence.” Briefly stated, clear and convincing proof means evidence presented during a trial must be highly and substantially more likely to be true than not true. One must establish that this infidelity happened at least once.
Your evidence should show:
- Your spouse had the inclination to be unfaithful
- Your spouse had the opportunity to do so
Sometimes a spouse will have direct proof of Adultery, an eyewitness, or photographs. But one may have to rely on indirect proof or “circumstantial evidence.” You may have to check with your divorce attorney what is admissible. Still, admissible evidence may include cell phone records, e-mails, credit card transactions, hotel receipts, love letters, or travel records. It is possible to text records or Facebook or similar postings are permitted as evidence.
Be aware that it is likely that the social media activity of each party to a divorce may be examined, and this could become an issue on either side. Deleting texts and e-mails will not always remove them permanently from your computer.
An Adultery issue in a divorce in Ohio could make granting of a divorce quicker or it could cause delay. If the accused partner denies that he or she has committed Adultery, it may slow down the divorce process and add to the cost, probably for both parties. Some spouses may admit they had an affair that will become a new relationship they wish to pursue. They want to end the marriage and may make concessions to get out of it and move on.
Alimony, Property Division, and Adultery
A divorce judge in Ohio will not consider a spouse’s transgressions when deciding alimony and property division. For example, an adulterous person will not necessarily “lose the house.” Decisions on these topics will be made according to state law.
In Ohio, alimony is referred to as “spousal support.” One spouse may ask the Court to order the other spouse to make financial support payments. The Court must consider 14 factors in each case when deciding how much to award in spousal support (See Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 3105).
Ohio may consider marital misconduct, including Adultery by either spouse, as part of “any factor the court finds to be fair and relevant” (the last of the 14 factors mentioned in the last paragraph). The Court is not required to consider any misconduct by any spouse, and even if it is considered, it is not required to be found relevant. In other words, there is no guarantee that Adultery will play a role in the awarding of spousal support in Ohio.
If Divorce Is In Your Future
You need to be armed with knowledge about what is happening to you. You may likely have a difficult road ahead, especially if minor children are involved. Many people have gone through what you are experiencing, and they have survived. Many have come out with a better life than they had in an unhappy marriage.
You may wish to consult an experienced Ohio divorce attorney before confronting your spouse about a divorce, or if your space has already told you, she has found someone else. Our divorce and family law attorneys can advise you whether using Adultery as grounds is right for your case and will review with you how you can get the evidence needed to prove your case.
When making important decisions about your children, your lifestyle, and your finances, it is important to separate your emotions from rational thinking about the future of your children, your lifestyle, and how you will survive financially. Here at our firm, we will help you to make that separation and guide you through every step of filing for a divorce if that is what you decide to do.