Infidelity has a devastating effect on marriage. Recent studies have shown that 69 percent of marriages end after a spouse is caught cheating. In some states, adultery can affect the legal outcome of the divorce. Certain states prevent a spouse who has committed adultery during the marriage from receiving alimony after the marriage ends, and in others ,adultery can affect the division of property in a divorce.
This article explains how adultery affects each spouse’s rights in Oregon. If you have additional questions after reading this article, contact an Oregon family law attorney for advice.
Oregon is a “no-fault” divorce state. Oregon, like many states, no longer considers which spouse’s behavior or misconduct caused the divorce. In fact, you’re not allowed to even testify about your spouse’s misconduct unless it’s directly related to something the court has to decide, such as property division or child custody. For example, if a parent has a drug addiction that makes them unable to take care of children, the judge will let you testify about the drug addiction. On the other hand, if your spouse had an affair but it didn't affect your spouse’s ability to care for the children, you will not be allowed to discuss the affair during the divorce hearing.
Courts may award alimony, also called “spousal support” in Oregon, to a spouse who has become financially dependent on the other spouse during a marriage. The court can award alimony both during the divorce proceedings and after the divorce is final.
Spouses often divide duties during a marriage, with one spouse more responsible for earning income while the other spouse tends to the home and children. Oregon courts may award “transitional spousal support” to allow a financially dependent spouse funds sufficient to obtain an education and training in order to reenter the job market. The court considers the following when determining transitional spousal support:
Sometimes spouses contribute to the other spouse’s education, job training, or career. For example, one spouse may have worked two jobs while putting the other spouse through school. Oregon courts may award “compensatory spousal support” in such cases by considering the following:
“Spousal maintenance” is the general support by one spouse of the other that is not transitional or compensatory; this is the support most people think of when they hear alimony. Factors Oregon courts consider when awarding spousal maintenance include:
To read more on alimony in Oregon, see Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Oregon.
Adultery doesn’t directly impact alimony in Oregon. Adultery, or any other misconduct for that matter, will only impact alimony if it impacts one of the factors above that the court considers when determining alimony. For example, in one Oregon case, a husband broke his wife’s ankle during an argument, and the court said it would only consider the injury if the broken ankle affected the wife’s ability to work.
It can be hard to prove that an affair created a need for alimony, but some examples may include where your spouse spent all of your savings on an affair, where your spouse created a large debt on the affair, or if the emotional impact of the affair was so great that it hurt your ability to hold a job.
When Oregon changed from fault-based divorces to no-fault divorces, it stopped considering misconduct, including adultery, when dividing a couple’s property. In rare circumstances, the court may consider the behavior of a spouse during a divorce, but only when it directly affects the parties’ finances, such as a spouse gambling away the couple’s money or spending it on gifts, hotels and travel related to an affair.
Oregon courts also only consider a spouse’s misconduct when determining custody and visitation in very limited circumstances. The misconduct must directly relate to a spouse’s parenting ability for the court to consider it, such as when a parent has a drug addiction that makes them unable to care for the children.
Contact a family law attorney in your area if you have additional questions about alimony and adultery in Oregon.
To read the full text of the law on adultery and alimony in Oregon, see the Oregon Revised Statutes § 107.105 and 107.036.