Adultery in New Hampshire: Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

Learn whether an extramarital affair can impact spousal support in New Hampshire.

Adultery is unfortunately a common problem in marriage. At least one spouse commits adultery in over half of all marriages, and over half of all marriages end in divorce. Many states take adultery into account when deciding how to divide a couple’s money and property during a divorce. In some states, adultery affects whether or not the cheating spouse can receive alimony.

This article will explain how adultery affects alimony in the state of New Hampshire. If you have more questions about adultery and alimony after reading this article, contact a New Hampshire family law attorney.

Overview of Alimony in New Hampshire

Court-ordered financial support from one spouse to the other during or after a divorce is called "alimony." New Hampshire courts can order a spouse with financial resources to pay alimony to a spouse without the finances to pay reasonable needs, when certain requirements are met.

A spouse may be eligible for alimony if they don’t have enough income or property to pay for needs, taking into account the standard of living the couple had during the marriage. A spouse isn’t eligible for alimony if that spouse is able to earn enough income to make ends meet, except when that spouse has to take care of children instead of work. A spouse can’t be ordered to pay alimony unless that spouse has enough money to pay expenses while supporting the other spouse.

New Hampshire courts can order that alimony be lump-sum, periodic, or both. Lump-sum alimony is alimony made all in one payment, by a transfer of either money or property. Periodic alimony is usually money paid on a monthly basis for a certain amount of time. Periodic alimony can be temporary, lasting for a certain number of months or years, or permanent, lasting until either spouse dies or the supported spouse gets remarried.

New Hampshire courts use the following factors to determine whether alimony should be awarded:

  • length of the marriage
  • age, health, social or economic status of the spouses
  • each spouse’s occupation
  • amounts and sources of income of each spouse
  • property each spouse receives in the divorce
  • jobs skills and chance to be employed for each spouse
  • debts for each spouse
  • needs for each spouse
  • chance for each spouse to get assets and income in the future
  • each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, both financial and non-financial, and
  • fault by either spouse that causes the divorce.

In New Hampshire, a spouse can petition the court for alimony up to five years after a divorce is final. If the spouse’s financial circumstances change at any time, the court can modify (change) alimony. There’s no formula to calculate alimony in New Hampshire; each alimony award is determined on a case-by-case basis.

You can find more details on alimony in New Hampshire by reading Understanding and Calculating Alimony in New Hampshire.

How Does Adultery Impact Alimony in New Hampshire?

A spouse’s adultery can affect alimony in New Hampshire, but it is not automatic that any adultery will bar a cheating spouse from receiving alimony. For adultery to make the cheating spouse ineligible for alimony, the following three factors must be met:

  • the adultery must be the cause of the divorce
  • the adultery must cause substantial mental or physical suffering to the faithful spouse, and
  • the adultery must cause significant financial harm to the faithful spouse or the couple’s estate.

When a divorce is caused by one spouse’s infidelity, the faithful spouse can probably prove that they suffered mental suffering because of the adultery.

The last requirement, however, may require the faithful spouse to prove that the cheating spouse also caused financial damage to the couple. This is often done by showing that the cheating spouse spent significant amounts of money on the affair by, for example, purchasing gifts for the cheating spouse's lover, paying for hotel rooms, trips, or any other aspects of the affair.

If you have questions about whether your spouse’s adultery makes your husband or wife ineligible to receive alimony, you should contact a New Hampshire family law attorney.

What Else Does Adultery Impact?

New Hampshire courts also consider adultery and other misconduct when deciding how to divide the couple’s money and property. A faithful spouse who was financially dependent on the cheating spouse during the marriage may be given a larger portion of the couple’s estate.

Adultery normally won’t have an impact on custody and visitation for the couple’s children. If a spouse’s affair negatively impacted the children, however, a court can consider that, along with all other evidence about each spouse’s parenting abilities.

Find more information about the divorce process in New Hampshire, read New Hampshire Divorce Basics.

Resources

Contact an experienced family law attorney in your area if you have additional questions about alimony and adultery in New Hampshire.

To read the full text of the law on adultery and alimony in New Hampshire, see the New Hampshire Revised Statutes §458.19, and §458.16-a.

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