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Understanding Misconduct During a Divorce Proceeding and Its Consequences

In New York, you can seek a “fault” or a “no-fault” divorce. Fault-based grounds means that one person allegedly committed an act against the other party, while no-fault-based grounds simply means that the marriage irretrievably broke down for at least six months.

Either way, misconduct can factor into divorce proceedings and affect the outcome of a divorce. Let’s explore what misconduct is and its consequences for divorcing couples.

What Is Considered Misconduct?

With regard to divorce, marital misconduct is a behavior that contributes to a marriage breaking down. Essentially, it is a behavior that burdens the other spouse in an unfair way and causes the union of two people to fail.

One or both spouses can accuse the other of marital misconduct with sufficient evidence. Even if you are pursuing a no-fault divorce, evidence of misconduct can affect how the victim-spouse is compensated and how assets are divided up.

Different Types of Misconduct

There are very specific things that constitute marital misconduct according to the law. These things include abusive or cruel behavior, adultery, habitual drunkenness, addiction to drugs, abandonment, and domestic violence.

Financial misconduct is another consideration if a person misrepresents financial figures and marital assets to the court. In this situation, a judge typically sides with the spouse who was honest about financial assets, including bank accounts, joint purchases, and retirement funds. Economic fault can also involve excessive spending, destroying property so it cannot be divided, fraudulently selling property, or diverting shared money to pay for an addiction.

Consequences of Misconduct

Judges do not appreciate being lied to or manipulated, so if misconduct involves lying about money or a certain behavior, this doesn’t fare well for the offender. Offending spouses will often see their share of marital assets reduced significantly if misconduct comes up in a divorce proceeding.

If a spouse spent shared assets on substance abuse or because of an affair, the other spouse may be entitled to a greater share of the divorce assets. Misconduct can also impact a spouse’s eligibility for alimony if he or she sacrificed a career because of the marriage. It is also possible that child visitation could be affected if one of the spouses abandoned the family or was involved in criminal acts.

What to Do If You’re Involved in Divorce Misconduct

Whether you are the spouse who committed misconduct or the spouse who had misconduct committed against you, it is advisable to seek counsel from an attorney who can fight for what you deserve within the law. Depending on the details of your case, it may be difficult to prove that misconduct occurred. However, financial misconduct is often easier to prove because there’s a paper trail of where the money went. Collecting and preserving evidence throughout the course of an ending marriage is often an effective way to secure your legal rights and get the compensation you deserve because of the other person’s wrongdoing.

Get Help with Your Divorce Misconduct Situation

New York is one of the states where marital misconduct is taken into consideration for equitable distribution of marital property and also spousal support or alimony, which is why it is beneficial to work with a local divorce attorney who can advocate on your behalf. Alatsas Law Firm is committed to providing you with the most reliable service and seeing your case through from start to finish.

If you are involved in a divorce where misconduct is a factor, we encourage you to call the firm at 718-233-2903 to arrange your consultation or contact the firm online.