Infidelity is one of the most common reasons people cite when pursuing a divorce. While extramarital affairs are not common, they aren’t rare either.

One study found about 16% of respondents admitted to cheating on their spouse during a marriage, with men more likely than women to do so. But what effect, if any, can this behavior have on property division during a divorce?

The effect of cheating on property division

There is no law requiring that a judge take an extramarital affair into account when determining how to divide assets. That said, Connecticut judges have some latitude. According to state law, they can consider a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, age and health of the spouses, employability, and sources of income. Also on that list is the cause of the divorce.

Connecticut does not require a spouse to establish fault in order to obtain a divorce. However, if someone wants to try to prove fault, they have that option, and one of the accepted grounds for divorce is adultery.

What this all means is that, if one spouse alleges adultery as a cause for the divorce, the judge could choose to take that into account when determining how to divide the separating couple’s marital assets. If that cheating included any significant financial investment, a judge might also opt to consider that as a factor.

None of this is to say a judge will always account for an affair in every divorce. But it’s important to know that they could, if they feel it is appropriate. Heading into proceedings prepared for any possibility can help make the process go more smoothly.