No Fault Divorces

Posted: 17 September, 2019

Infidelity & No-Fault Divorces

Every time you turn around there is yet another scandal in the headlines about cheating spouses. You’ve seen the stories such as politicians, movei stars and others with their infidelities. Although there is a huge demand for all the all juicy details, in reality the courts could care less in the majority of divorce cases.

This is due to no-fault divorce laws in Nevada. No-fault means courts do not require couples to specifically list the reasons as to why things didn’t work out.  No-fault could also means that their are no penalties for being unfaithful.  For the most part, a family court will not financially punish either party for having an affair or cheating. Financials usually just come down to community property laws and formulas.

For example, we had a client who caught her husband cheating with a close friend.  The issue was so emotional that our client quit her job and moved out of state.  The home went into foreclosure, she filed bankruptcy and her life became a financial mess. Think a hefty sanction would be a fitting punishment for the pain of her husband’s affair? The court didn’t think so and no where in the laws are the courts able to impose such judgements.

The court may order an unequal distribution of the assets if the infidelity lead to a misuse of marrital assets.  One of our clients found his wife cheating and also noticed exorbitant charges on her credit card that were a result of dinners and hotel rooms spent on her boyfriend.   All totaled, the wife had charged about $15,000 of expenses that were part of the affair. The court ruled that these charges would be reibmursed by the cheating spouse.

If the spouse has spent a lot of money on the affair, it can also cost them in the divorce. “I had a situation where a husband rented an apartment to conduct an affair,” says Wallack. “It cost $5,000 a month, and he rented it for two years.” On top of her alimony, the wife ended up getting $120,000 to compensate for that expenditure.

While it’s impossible to determine exactly how many divorces occur because of infidelity, it’s considered so common that most attorneys write pre-nuptial agreements with infidelity clauses included to deflect some of the impact.  Well written prenuptial agreements outline the ramifications of an possible affair. Typically, the contract will spell out the monetary values that will be awarded to the other party if their spouse cheats on them and it can be proven.

For confidential reasons we cannot speak personally of of any pre-nuptial examples.Robert Wallack, a matrimonial attorney in New York advised, “I had one case where a contract stated that if the husband cheated, and if the wife could prove it, she would control his real estate holdings.” And his client became quite the real estate mogul.  

Nevada has a reputation for obtaining an easy divorce, but is not the only state nor the first state to create no-fault divorce laws.  California, in 1969 created the first no-fault divorce laws and all 50 states have since inacted no-fault divorce laws.

author avatar
Meredith Weiner