By: Clarissa Finnell
Almost every meeting with a new divorce client starts with a recitation of all the reasons that the parties are getting divorced. High on that list is infidelity. Clients will provide me with loads and loads of evidence that their spouse is cheating and are surprised to find out that all this “proof” of infidelity is unlikely to impact their divorce. Indiana is a no-fault divorce state which in basic terms means that the reason the parties are divorcing is not a factor considered by the court when dividing up the parties’ assets and debts. The reason or grounds for divorce that is most commonly used in Indiana divorce petitions is that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” in the marriage. It is important to know that there does not have to be a consensus on whether the marriage is “irretrievably broken”. As long as one party alleges that it is “broken”, the divorce can be granted.
So, does this mean that your spouse’s cheating will never be relevant in a divorce proceeding? Not necessarily; there are a couple of incidents where it may play a factor. The first is dissipation. There is a presumption in Indiana that all marital assets and liabilities be divided equally. There are several ways that you can rebut that presumption. Dissipation is a factor that the court may consider when deciding to divide the marital estate. If you can show that your spouse used marital assets on another person during your marriage that may be considered dissipation. For example, spending money on travel or gifts for the “other” woman or man may be considered dissipation and warrant a deviation from the presumptive 50/50 division.