Until the coming of no-fault divorce in the 1970s, divorcing couples used adultery as the grounds to end the marriage because proving wrongdoing – fault – was necessary. Adultery is still a major reason that couples end their marriages but proving fault is no longer a requirement. Sometimes a wounded spouse uses adultery to get even but most layers advise against it.
All 51 jurisdictions now allow no-fault, and in 17 of these spouses cannot use adultery even if they want do.
Of the jurisdictions that offer fault grounds, more than half, as well as the District of Columbia, consider adultery when it comes to awarding alimony. As a rule, when adultery caused the divorce, courts are reluctant to order the victim spouse to pay maintenance, especially on a permanent basis.
Moreover, adultery might also have an impact on the distribution of marital property, particularly if the adulterer dissipated marital assets.