In 2012, Vermont had the fifth highest divorce rate in the United States. Many of these divorces were caused, at least in part, by adultery.
If you're going through a divorce based on adultery, you may be wondering what effect, if any, adultery has on a divorce. For example, a number of states have laws that prevent an unfaithful spouse from receiving alimony in a divorce. Other states may give a cheating spouse a smaller portion of the couple’s property. Some states don’t consider adultery at all when deciding the financial aspects of a divorce.
This article will explain how adultery impacts a divorce in Vermont. If you have additional questions after reading this article, contact at Vermont family law attorney.
Vermont law states that adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between two people, one of whom is married to someone else. In Vermont, both people involved in the affair have committed adultery, even if one of them is not married.
When it comes to divorce, Vermont is a "no-fault" state, which means courts in Vermont do not consider evidence of any marital misconduct, including adultery, when granting a divorce. The same rule applies when courts are determining the financial aspects of a divorce, such as alimony - judges won't consider adultery when deciding whether or how much alimony to award.
When a spouse is unable to support himself or herself through employment after a divorce, Vermont courts will often award that financial dependent spouse ("the receiving spouse") alimony to be paid by the other spouse (the "paying spouse"). In Vermont, the court will award alimony in an amount to bring a supported spouse up to the standard of living the couple had during the marriage.
Vermont courts take the following factors into account when deciding alimony:
Alimony is usually paid in monthly installments, but it can also be paid all at once, or can be in the form of a transfer of property from one spouse to the other. The court can modify alimony if the spouses’ financial circumstances change while alimony is still being paid.
For more details on alimony in Vermont, read Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Vermont.
In Vermont, the purpose of alimony is to reduce the financial impact of divorce, not to award or punish a spouse for behavior during the marriage. Adultery has no impact on alimony in Vermont divorces. Even in cases where one spouse’s behavior has been detrimental to the other spouse’s ability to earn income, the court won’t consider that misconduct when deciding how to divide property or whether to award alimony.
Adultery does not have a direct impact on a Vermont divorce. However, if one spouse spent a substantial amount of money on an affair, for example, by using the marital savings account to buy a car or other large gifts for a paramour, Vermont courts will consider those expenses when dividing the couple’s property. A spouse who spent money on an affair may receive a smaller portion of the couple’s property, but because of the money wasted, not the affair itself.
Judges in Vermont won’t consider adultery when making decisions about child custody or visitation. In Vermont, evidence of an affair alone does not prove that one spouse cannot take care of the couple’s children.
If you have additional questions about divorce and adultery in Vermont, you should speak with a Vermont family law attorney.
To read the full text of the law on alimony in Vermont, see the Vermont Statutes Annotated, 15 V.S.A. § 752.