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Some marriages withstand the infidelity of one or both partners. Yet, the discovery of an affair – or of repeated indiscretions – can break apart a seemingly solid union. No matter how you found out about your spouse’s infidelity, you may feel that divorce is your only option. And you may wonder, too, whether their behavior will affect the outcome of your settlement. While Wisconsin follows no-fault divorce laws, in some cases it may.

The impact of adultery in Wisconsin

Under Wisconsin law, adultery is a Class I felony. While this is the state’s least serious felony class, it is still punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. Yet, this law was enacted in 1849. Because adultery now qualifies as a personal or moral – rather than criminal – issue, state courts rarely enforce it.

Furthermore, Wisconsin’s no-fault divorce laws allow people to file without providing a reason. And in most cases, state courts will not consider adultery as a factor when awarding spousal maintenance or dividing property. Yet, they may consider it if it affected your marital finances, or when ruling on custody. Your spouse may have dissipated your assets while committing adultery. Or, their actions may have upended your children’s lives. In these cases, their conduct could impact the terms of your settlement.

Preparing for proceedings

Before your divorce proceedings begin, you will want to gather evidence of your spouse’s adultery. If you have text or email records establishing their infidelity, a judge may find these relevant. You will also want to include any financial records and witness statements pointing to its impact. By gathering these, you can demonstrate how your spouse’s actions affected you and your children.

Because adultery can hurt families, you will want to do everything in your power to protect yours. A family law attorney can help you weigh your options for moving forward from it.