man making a woman upset and considering a divorce

Marital Misconduct: What Is It? Can It Impact Your Divorce?

There are many ways a divorce process can go. It could be either a peaceful divorce or challenging one. 

The best case scenario is when a couple works towards a divorce goal that benefits both sides. Couples who divorce because they grew apart from each other are likely to have a peaceful divorce. In contrast, a challenging divorce often comes as a result of marital misconduct. 

Regardless of the moral implications of marital misconduct in a marriage, spouses should know that this behavior can also affect their divorce case. 

What is Marital Misconduct?

Marital misconduct is the act in which a spouse mistreats the other one. There are different types of conducts that qualify as marital misconduct. Some examples include:

  • Extramarital affairs
  • Reckless spending
  • Abandonment
  • Physical or emotional abuse 
  • Drug abuse

Marital Misconduct by State

Divorce laws vary by state and, as a result, so does the marital misconduct’s impact on divorce. For example, in some states, marital misconduct can influence if a spouse receives alimony. Meanwhile, in other states, marital misconduct is an important factor when determining the distribution of marital assets. Furthermore, in other states, marital misconduct can also affect the child custody agreement. Therefore, it is crucial to discuss any acts of marital misconduct during your marriage with your divorce attorney. 

In the state of Pennsylvania, where you can find the Law Offices of Paul Bowen, marital misconduct can legally impact the distribution of marital assets and alimony. 

What Are the Impacts of Marital Misconduct?

During a divorce, you and your spouse will need to agree on critical legal matters. Here is how marital misconduct can impact the legal terms of a divorce:

Distribution of Marital Assets 

Marital assets are any property or assets that both spouses obtained during the marriage. When spouses file for divorce, they will need to divide these assets fairly. Do notice, a fair distribution is not necessarily an equal one.  

How does marital misconduct affect the distribution of marital assets? If a spouse recklessly spent marital assets, the court may grant the other spouse a greater share during the divorce. 


Spouses who earn less than their partners are likely to receive alimony. Also, spouses who gave up their career/education for the wellbeing of their marriage are likely to receive alimony. Nevertheless, the chances for eligibility for alimony shrink down for spouses who engage in marital misconduct.

Child Custody

Child custody aims to protect the child’s best interests. Ideally, a child custody agreement should enable the child to build a healthy relationship with both parents. In other words, both parents should have a fair agreement regarding child time-sharing.

Unfortunately, in some cases, marital misconduct can jeopardize the emotional and physical health of children. For example, engaging in domestic violence or criminal activity represents a danger to the child. In these situations, marital misconduct can take away the parent’s child custody rights.  

Marital Misconduct After Separation: What You Should Know

In some cases, couples decide to separate before doing it legal. However, if this is your case, you still need to avoid engaging in any type of marital misconduct. Even if the divorce process is on the go, you still need to be on your best marital behavior. This is because marital misconduct is relevant to the court until the divorce process ends.

Is your spouse engaging in marital misconduct? Are you ready for a new chapter? At the Offices of Paul Bowen Law, we can help. We have years of experience advising clients who want to file for divorce. Find out more about our services by contacting us today at (727) 773-1554.