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Does Adultery Have Any Effect on Divorce in Minnesota?

Minnesota is one of many “no-fault” divorce states. This means that neither party must prove the other was at fault for the breakdown of a marriage. So long as you or your spouse believe the marriage is irretrievably damaged and a judge agrees, your divorce can proceed. The reasons why the marriage failed are essentially irrelevant in a no-fault case.

This differs from fault-based states, in which wrongdoing is often considered when a court decides whether it will grant a divorce. If adultery was an issue in the marriage, it would likely be stated in the divorce papers.

In Minnesota, there are some unique circumstances regarding the issue of adultery as it relates to divorce.

Minnesota’s outdated definition of adultery

The definition of adultery is clearly outdated in Minnesota. Legally, adultery is considered to happen when a married woman has intercourse with a man who is not her husband. Oddly enough, the definition does not reference married men who have sex with women who are not their wives — and it does not account for same-sex affairs. The common-sense definition of adultery is any legally married person engaging in extramarital sexual relations, but the legal definition is from a different time.

This is largely because Minnesota courts do not consider any fault-based evidence when analyzing divorces, meaning adultery is not a factor with regard to whether the divorce will be allowed to proceed. Thus, there hasn’t been much need to change the actual wording of the law.

That said, marital conduct could have an effect on matters like asset distribution, alimony and child custody. This means that while adultery plays no role in whether the divorce is allowed, it could be a factor in other aspects of your case.

For the guidance and advice you need as you move through the divorce process, consult a skilled family law attorney in Minnesota.

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