April 10, 2021

“No Fault” Divorce Doesn’t Mean Fault Doesn’t Matter

Connecticut law allows for divorces where one spouse proves fault of the other spouse, such as adultery, mental or physical cruelty. But almost all divorces are obtained because one spouse states that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.  No fault divorce means there is no need to prove the fault of the other spouse.

            But that doesn’t mean that fault doesn’t matter when it comes to the financial aspects of the divorce.  The law allows consideration of the cause of the divorce.  Here is an example from a recent case.  Based on evidence presented by the wife, the judge found the 54-year old husband was largely to blame for the breakdown of the marriage due to his extramarital affair with his 22-year old employee.  He also paid the girlfriend’s car loan, car insurance, gym membership, student loans and credit card bills.  He bought her expensive gifts and went on expensive vacations with her. At the same time, he allowed family bills to go unpaid. He even allowed his minor child’s car to be repossessed.  The result was that the trial court ordered him to pay more for alimony and for a longer period of time than would be normal considering the other facts of the case.

            A court will not see every act of adultery as the cause of the breakdown. Or, even if it does, that it will affect the financial orders.  However, where adultery is flagrant or significantly affects the family’s finances, the cheating spouse will sometimes receive especially unfavorable orders.  In his appeal of the trial court decision, the husband claimed that the alimony order was a penalty that is beyond the authority of the trial court.  The appellate court said the alimony order was not a penalty.  It upheld the trial court’s finding that the husband’s bad behavior caused the breakdown justifying the alimony award.

Thanks to The Cheshire Citizen which originally published this article in the April 8, 2021 edition.


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