Infidelity, also known as adultery, is one of the leading causes of divorce. In the U.S., 20% to 40% of marriages result in divorce due to a spouse committing adultery. When approached with this type of case, the common question that arises is “Will this affect my divorce proceeding?” For Colorado married couples and family law practitioners, it is important to understand the impact these actions have on a divorce case and the laws pertaining to adultery.
Colorado Is A “No-Fault” State
Many years ago, adultery was a criminal offense in Colorado. As these laws have evolved, Colorado has become a “no-fault” state, meaning that couples do not have to provide proof or reasoning that shows that a spouse is “at fault” (i.e., abusive, committed adultery, etc.). The only requirement for dissolving a marriage is alleging that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Although adultery is not legally recognized as a reason to terminate a marriage in the state of Colorado, there are other divorce-related issues where infidelity may be applicable to divorce proceedings.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities/Custody
Although divorce is never an easy transition or legal proceeding to navigate, these cases become significantly complicated when children are involved. During this process, it is common for spouses to pit their qualifications as parents against each other to prove that one is more fit to care for the children than the other. In Colorado, infidelity is not a reason to deny a parent parenting time with their child. It is the judge’s duty to determine parenting time in the best interest of the children involved. For cases involving infidelity, if the judge determines a parent’s new significant other poses a physical or emotional risk to the children, or a parent’s extramarital affair resulted in child neglect or child abuse, these circumstances could have a direct impact on determining the allocation of parental responsibilities, including parenting time.
Division of Marital Assets/Marital Waste
It is the court’s duty to fairly and equitably divide marital property and debts during the proceedings of a divorce. However, if a party has expended marital funds on their new significant other, the judge could find that a party has engaged in economic waste and dissipation of the marital estate for non-marital purposes. For example, if the cheating spouse was spending marital funds on lavish vacations or gifts for a new partner, the other spouse could be awarded more property to account for the dissipation of marital property.
Navigating Infidelity & Divorce
Navigating infidelity and the impacts it has on divorce is not only emotionally challenging and overwhelming, but it is rarely considered in dissolution of marriage proceedings in Colorado. If adultery is affecting the bond of marriage, and divorce is on the horizon, find an attorney that can help shed light on Colorado laws and provide the resources necessary for navigating a complex and intricate divorce proceeding.
Kama McConaughy Sarkissian, shareholder at McConaughy & Sarkissian, P.C., is an experienced attorney whose practice is focused on all areas of family law. She can be contacted at 303-649-0999.