Will marital misconduct affect your divorce decree?

On Behalf of | Sep 2, 2020 | Divorce |

If your marriage broke down due to your spouse’s misconduct, you likely feel wronged and hurt. As you begin divorce proceedings, you might wonder how their actions will affect your final decree. In some states, marital misconduct is a bar to spousal support. And it can affect the division of marital property as well. But in Minnesota, these outcomes are unlikely.

Understanding marital misconduct

Marital misconduct refers to any adverse behavior that contributes to a union’s breakdown. To meet its threshold, these actions must place an unnecessary burden on the affected spouse. Often, marital misconduct indicates the presence of adultery in a marriage. But it can encompass other types of wrongdoing, too, including:

  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Cruelty
  • Abandonment and neglect
  • Dissipating marital assets

What Minnesota courts consider

Minnesota observes no-fault divorce laws, which permit the dissolution of your marriage regardless of its cause. During your divorce proceedings, state courts will not act in a punitive manner, even if your spouse’s misconduct led to your divorce. In fact, their misconduct may have minimal – if any – impact on your final decree. By state law, marital misconduct is not a relevant factor in awarding spousal support or in dividing marital property. Rather, a judge will consider the difference in circumstances between you and your spouse when ruling on these decisions.

However, state courts will consider whether your spouse committed economic misconduct during your marriage. They may have dissipated marital assets, whether through gambling, reckless spending or funneling funds toward an addiction or an affair. In these cases, a judge may award your spouse a lesser share of marital property than they would have received otherwise.