Infidelity and Divorce in Louisiana: Why It Might Matter.


Recently, all of us in New Orleans have been flooded with gossip, conjectures, and the latest news on the Angelina Jolie - Brad Pitt divorce.  We all saw the headlines on the gossip rags in the grocery stores.  We followed the sale of their marital home, some of us even indulged in doing our own private citizen sleuthing to see if an affair was really the cause of the end of their marriage (like said gossip rags would have us think). 

It might seem silly, but the idea of cheating - whether or not it’s in a celebrity marriage – is wrought with taboos and speculations.  Furthermore, many of us don’t even know how cheating and infidelity even affect legal divorce proceedings in the first place.  Does the cheated-on spouse usually get more alimony or child support?  Can it affect custody of the children?  What about the home?  Does the cheating spouse have to move out automatically?

The truth is, adultery may affect a divorce, and it may not.  It’s completely case-by-case.  In Louisiana, whether you have a covenant marriage or a traditional marriage, you can officially cite “adultery” as the cause for your divorce, just like you could for “cruelty” or “domestic violence”.  All this means is that it’s the foundation upon which your divorce case is built, no matter which direction you want to go into.

First, it’s important to note that the adultery can be defined as any sexual act, inside or outside of heterosexual intercourse.  So, yes, cheating on a spouse doesn’t strictly mean intercourse. 

Here are three ways citing “adultery” can affect your divorce proceedings.  As every single case, however, is completely different, it’s always best to speak to an attorney about whether and how adultery can affect your divorce.

1.       You may be able to speed up your divorce

Louisiana law typically requires that a couple be separated for one year before they can be legally divorced if they have minor children.  However, if adultery is the cause for the divorce, a couple may be able to obtain a divorce quicker than that.  If you want a speedy divorce, that’s best communicated to your attorney.  Your attorney can then talk to you about whether or not that may be possible in the first place, and also communicate to you all of the possible outcomes and effects that a quick divorce might have on your divorce as a whole.

2.      Adultery could possibly have an effect on property division or alimony

Again, it’s all situational.  There are extramarital affairs that may not affect the divorce.   The adultery may not have any effect on a request for child support or a community property division.  However, there are certainly situations where it may drastically affect your divorce. 

If a cheating spouse is found to be at fault for the divorce, that same spouse may not be entitled to any final spousal support.  Louisiana Civil Code art. 112 requires that a spouse be “free from fault” in order to receive final spousal support.  

It’s imperative that you speak to your attorney about your individual case.  Your attorney can tell you more about whether or not adultery can or might affect your alimony or property division proceedings. Every case is unique.

3.       A lack of discretion surrounding an extramarital relationship might affect child custody proceedings

Once again, this is extremely case-by-case.  Specifically, if the parent is flaunting the extramarital relationship in front of the child, or allowing strangers/partners in front of the child to a harmful extent, this could be a major issue in a child custody proceeding.                                                                             

Adultery is one of the most nuanced and case-by-case aspects of divorces in Louisiana.  If you are going through a divorce where adultery is the cause of the split, it’s even more important that you get legal advice from a seasoned divorce attorney on the matter. 

Call a seasoned lawyer in Louisiana today to speak with them about setting up a consultation so that you can discuss the details of your case and how they might play out in your individual proceedings.