When considering the possibility of divorce in Ohio, it is common for individuals to inquire about the impact of adultery. The brief answer is that in Ohio, adultery stands as one of the grounds for divorce. However, the topic warrants a more elaborate explanation.
Adultery serves as one of the fault grounds in a divorce proceeding in Ohio, and it does not bear on the financial aspects of the case or result in any penalties imposed by the Court. Nevertheless, if there are dependent children involved, the issue of adultery may influence a custody dispute if the paramour of a parent has a questionable past. Additionally, the Court must assess whether a parent has associations that could negatively affect the children.
In What Ways Can Adultery Impact a Custody Dispute?
The Court holds a vested interest in evaluating the potential influence of third parties associated with a divorcing parent on the child or children involved. In the event that the parent’s adulterous conduct exposes the child to unsuitable individuals, or if the child is solicited to conceal illicit behavior, Adultery may carry significant weight in the context of child custody.
What Is Considered Adultery In Ohio?
The Ohio Revised Code does not provide a specific description of what constitutes Adultery. Nevertheless, if a married individual willingly engages in intimate acts with an individual who is not their spouse, it is improbable that a judge would conclude that the “jilted” spouse lacks grounds for divorce.
Legally, the definition of Adultery is predicated on the perpetrator’s marital status. Thus, a post-separation affair would qualify as an act of adultery in the eyes of the law since the individual involved in the affair remains married and has not yet obtained a divorce.
Adultery Impacts on Alimony
In Ohio, adultery may indeed influence the decision to award alimony. Courts may take into account marital misconduct, including adultery by either party, as one of “any other factors the court finds to be fair and relevant,” as previously stated. If one spouse begins cohabiting with a romantic partner during the divorce proceedings and requests alimony, a judge may consider this as a relevant factor as well.
Nonetheless, it is not mandatory for the court to consider marital misconduct when evaluating spousal support. Furthermore, even if the court does consider such misconduct, it is not obligated to find it pertinent to the decision on spousal support. Therefore, there is no certainty that adultery will play a role in the award of spousal support in Ohio.
Adultery Impacts on Custody and Child Support
Ohio law explicitly prohibits judges from factoring in marital misconduct when it comes to child support (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3109.05). Instead, the court is mandated to abide by the state’s child support guidelines schedule, which corresponds directly to the parents’ incomes and the number of children within the family.
Regarding child custody decisions, Ohio courts prioritize the child’s best interests, and the judge is responsible for determining the most advantageous parenting plan for the family. The court evaluates various factors but does not consider marital misconduct.
Adultery will not have an impact on your custody case unless a parent knowingly puts the child in a hazardous or unhealthy situation that jeopardizes the child’s well-being. For instance, if a parent engaged in an affair with a convicted child abuser and continued to spend time with that individual, the court may limit or suspend custody or parenting time until the parent resolves the matter.
Proof of Adultery
When pursuing divorce on the grounds of adultery, one must provide proof of the infidelity, rather than relying on mere belief. To prove the misconduct, a person must provide clear and convincing evidence that the adultery occurred at least once. The required burden of proof under this standard is lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases.
To provide evidence of adultery, it is necessary to show that the accused spouse had both the opportunity and inclination to cheat. Direct evidence, such as eyewitness accounts or photographs, may be available but circumstantial evidence, such as cell phone records, credit card transactions, or hotel receipts may also be used. However, obtaining such evidence may require hiring a private investigator which can be expensive. If the accused spouse denies the infidelity, the divorce process could be slowed down, and the costs may increase. Ultimately, the Court prefers to grant a divorce on the basis of incompatibility instead.
Alternatively, a spouse who feels guilty about the infidelity may want to move on quickly with the divorce and may make concessions to expedite the process. However, it is important to note that moving out of the marital home may complicate some aspects of child custody and of being awarded the marital home in a property settlement.
Ohio’s divorce laws may seem challenging, but in several other states, the divorce process may be more difficult. In some states, waiting periods of over 500 days may be required for divorcing parties.
Contact Nielsen Law Today
Jennifer Nielsen is a skilled attorney who has extensive experience handling various types of divorce cases. In addition to her legal expertise, she also values compassionate representation and open communication with her clients. She remains accessible to her clients, offering them reassurance and responding to their important questions throughout the divorce process.
The attorneys of Nielsen Law will guide you through each step and ensure you are informed about your rights and options. While divorces can be challenging both emotionally and financially, a skilled divorce lawyer in Columbus can help you work towards a brighter future.
If you would like to discuss your case with Jennifer Nielsen, please contact her today to schedule a 30-minute consultation.