How Does Adultery Impact Divorce in Minnesota?

March 18, 2013  |  Elizabeth A. Schading

Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state. That means that adultery doesn’t always have the impact that people imagine.
Your spouse’s adultery doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll “get everything.” Your own adultery doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose everything.
In fact, there are only few ways in which adultery might be relevant to a divorce case. The courts will want to look at three aspects of the adulterous relationship, and two of them only apply if you have children.


If you have children the courts will want to know how much time was spent on the affair. If parenting time took a back seat to spending time with the new lover and did so for a long period of time then the affair could have a detrimental effect on the custody position of the adulterous spouse. It may be relevant if the children have been introduced to the new person in your life, and the amount of contact there has been.
The court will also be concerned with whether or not the spouse’s lover has been or would be a bad influence on the children. A lover’s criminal background, history of mental illness or addiction problems could all prove relevant to custody determinations. Your children’s feelings about the lover can also matter a great deal.
The courts will also want to know how much of the marital earnings or assets were spent on the affair, or how much debt was incurred while pleasing the lover. If the adulterous spouse emptied the family savings account to take the lover off for a $15,000 weekend vacation prior to the divorce it can make a big difference to the way the property and debt are divided between the divorcing spouses later on.
If your spouse was unfaithful it’s not uncommon to want to see him or her “punished.” However, it’s important to try to keep the divorce proceedings civil and businesslike.
You can negatively impact your own case by pushing the issue too hard or too loudly. Courts aren’t in the business of punishing immorality; they’re in the business of helping you dissolve your marriage equitably and ensuring the health and welfare of the children of divorce.
If you are getting divorced and there was adultery involved, Barny, Guzy, & Steffen can help you navigate the legal challenges. We’ve had over 80 years of combined divorce law experience and we know the legal courses to take with these challenging issues. Call us today and let us put our experience to work on your behalf.