Adultery in Nebraska: Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

If you’re getting divorced in Nebraska and you or your spouse has cheated, you’ll need to know how the adultery will affect the judge’s decisions about your case, including alimony, child custody, and child support.

By , Retired Judge

Adultery can cause a marriage to become an emotional nightmare, and it's a common cause of divorce in Nebraska. When you're ending your marriage because one (or both) of you has cheated on the other, it's possible that the adultery will impact the outcome of your divorce, including any potential award of alimony. Every state's alimony laws are different; here's a breakdown of how the state of Nebraska's alimony laws address adultery.

An Overview of Alimony in Nebraska

Divorce can cause financial turmoil and reveal hard truths about each spouse's post-divorce financial prospects. Often, one spouse will be in a better position than the other, with, for example, a higher-paying job, a more promising career path, or access to more assets.

The courts attempt to balance these inequities by ordering the spouse who's more financially sound to pay alimony (also referred to as "maintenance" or "spousal support") to the other. The main goal of alimony is to ensure that both spouses can provide for their own needs after the divorce.

Nebraska law gives judges a lot of leeway when it comes to dealing with alimony issues. All that's required is that the court's decision as to whether to award alimony, as well as the determination of the amount and duration of the award, be reasonable.

The current trend is for courts to award alimony for a defined amount of time. Usually this means providing needier spouses with support for a period of time that will allow them to take steps to become self-sufficient. For example, a spouse who's been out of the job market for a while might need some additional education or training to compete.

That being said, there is still the possibility that a court might award long-term (indefinite) alimony. Ordinarily, this option will be used only when there has been a lengthy marriage, particularly when one of the spouses isn't a good candidate for employment, perhaps because of age or medical issues.

Nebraska law provides judges with a list of factors to consider when addressing the question of alimony. Those factors are:

  • the general circumstances of the spouses
  • the length of the marriage
  • each spouse's contributions to the marriage
  • each spouse's contributions to the care and education of the children
  • whether spouses interrupted their career or education opportunities, and
  • the ability of the supported spouse to work without interfering with the interests of any minor children in that spouse's custody.

(Neb. Rev. Stat. § 42-365 (2021).)

Is Nebraska a No-fault Divorce State?

Nebraska allows only no-fault divorces: Courts will not consider any evidence of misconduct. Although all states provide a no-fault basis for divorce, many maintain fault-based grounds as well, such as physical or mental cruelty, desertion, substance abuse, and adultery. Nebraska has done away with all fault-based grounds. In doing so, the hope is to avoid much of the hostility that this kind of finger-pointing tends to generate in a divorce. Less animosity often leads to diminished anxiety for all concerned, not to mention lower legal fees.

In Nebraska, all you have to prove is that the marriage is "irretrievably broken," meaning there's no reasonable chance of salvaging the relationship. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 42-361 (2021).)

How Does Adultery Impact Alimony in Nebraska?

Adultery in Nebraska generally has no impact on alimony. Marital misconduct isn't on the list of factors that a judge considers when deciding whether alimony is appropriate.

As an aside, adultery might indirectly affect the outcome of a divorce. For example, let's say one of the spouses cheated on the other. If the unfaithful spouse drained the couple's bank account to finance the infidelity, like with trips or gifts, a court might award the other spouse a greater share of the couple's assets as compensation when deciding the distribution of marital property.

Does Adultery Affect Custody or Child Support in Nebraska?

In most Nebraska divorce cases, the fact that a spouse has cheated doesn't affect custody or child support. However, it's important to remember that when it comes to custody matters, judges must prioritize the best interests of the children. So if a parent's adulterous behavior compromises a child's health or safety, it could certainly affect a judge's custody decision. For example, when a parent leaves a young child unattended because that parent is off having an extra-marital affair, a judge would probably be less inclined to entrust the child's well-being to that parent.

When it comes to child support, Nebraska child support guidelines advise that the amount of time a child spends with a parent who is obligated to pay child support can factor into a calculation of the support amount. As a rule, the more time a parent has with a child, the less child support the parent will have to pay, because they're already spending money on the child during parenting time (also known as "visitation"). If the court denies or significantly limits parenting time because of a parent's adulterous behavior, the offending parent will likely be paying more money for support.