Are you seeking legal action for being a victim of adultery? Baltimore family law attorney Randolph Rice discusses whether or not you can sue a person for cheating with your husband or spouse in the state of Maryland.
Suing Your Spouse’s Lover for Adultery in Maryland
Adultery is a ground for divorce in Maryland but can you sue someone for cheating with your husband in Maryland? The short answer is no. The idea of suing your spouse’s paramour is not as bizarre as it sounds. Several states still allow ‘alienation of affection’ lawsuits. These legal actions can be brought against anyone who interferes with a marriage.
Defendants are typically an adulterous spouse’s lover. Other parties like family members who encouraged a split, therapists, counselors, therapists, and even church members who urged a divorce, can be brought into the lawsuit.
Only a few states now allow alienation of affection lawsuits. They include Illinois, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah.
Under Maryland’s 2013 Code § 3-103, alienation of affection actions are no longer permitted in the state. Although your husband’s lover cannot be sued in Maryland, infidelity may still have an impact on divorce proceedings.
This is not the case in some states. In 17 states and the District of Columbia, you can only file for divorce on no-fault grounds. Traditional grounds like adultery, abandonment, and cruelty are no longer relevant to the dissolution of marriage in these states.
Fault may still be relevant in Maryland. Talk to Baltimore divorce attorney Randolph Rice if you believe adultery is a factor in your divorce.
How Can Cheating Affect a Divorce in Maryland?
Maryland allows both fault and non-fault based grounds for divorce. Adultery is a fault-based ground for divorce. If you can show adultery, there is no waiting period for the marriage to end. Some grounds for divorce require a waiting period of a year. No separation period is required for divorce based on adultery.
Many people don’t realize you don’t have to show concrete evidence of sexual intercourse with a third party to prove cheating. However, you must show your spouse had the disposition and opportunity to commit intercourse outside the marriage.
Adulterous disposition can be wide. It includes kissing, hugging, and hand-holding. Relevant evidence for an adulterous ‘opportunity’ includes showing your spouse entered the paramour’s home at night and did not leave until the next morning.
Many spouses believe the admission of cheating is sufficient grounds for divorce. It’s not. You must back up an admission with evidence such as text messages, emails, photos, or correspondence. If the adulterous relationship produces a child, birth can be used as evidence of cheating.
In the past, there was a gray area about adultery in same-sex marriages in Maryland. The Attorney General attempted to clear this up in a 2015 statement.
The statement recognized adultery has both criminal and civil repercussions, although the criminal sanctions for cheating have “fallen into disuse.” The document stated:
“The primary purpose of adultery as a concept in Maryland family law is to recognize that sexual infidelity is a breach of the marriage vow and causes damage to the marriage, such that the injured party should be allowed to dissolve the marriage more easily than would otherwise be the case.
This purpose is implicated to the same degree whether an unfaithful spouse has sex with a man or a woman; extramarital sexual activity with someone of the same sex is just as damaging to a marriage as sexual activity with someone of the opposite sex. We accordingly believe that Maryland courts would recognize same-sex sexual infidelity as adultery.”
Can Cheating Affect Alimony in MD?
Spouses who believe their partner’s cheating will give them the upper hand in alimony proceedings are likely to be disappointed. The court will not levy a big alimony award to punish your cheating husband or wife.
However, bad behavior by either party can be a factor in alimony. It can affect how much money is awarded and for how long.
Fault is usually only considered if it affects the economic needs of the spouse who’s seeking alimony. Adultery, for example, is only relevant to alimony if it affected the finances of the supported spouse
How Cheating Affects the Distribution of Property in Maryland
Infidelity can have an impact on how a court decides to split up property in Maryland but it’s often negligible and there are many more important factors like the incomes of the parties and the amount of time and effort put into a home.
If a spouse spends marital assets such as those from a joint account with their estranged partner on a new partner, even if it’s post-separation, the court can find they committed marital “waste.” The court can assume the asset was of the same value as during the marriage for property settlement purposes. This provision is intended to prevent parties from wasting assets.
Does Cheating Affect Child Support and Custody in MD?
Cheating may mean your partner is a bad husband but it does not follow that he is a bad father. The courts are unlikely to take away or restrict your spouse’s custodial rights because of cheating. It’s also unlikely to affect child support which is based on financial factors. Cheating can only impact child custody issues if it puts a minor in danger. If your husband’s new partner is threatening or violent toward the children or they end up in unsuitable and hazardous housing, this can be relevant to child custody and visitation.
Talk to a Baltimore Divorce Attorney About Adultery in Maryland
Infidelity is often cited as a cause of divorce in Maryland. It’s not as easy to establish as many spouses believe. Although divorce lawyers still hear people saying you can sue someone for cheating with your spouse, this is no longer the case in Maryland. Like most states, Maryland has abolished its alienation of affection laws. Cheating is still relevant in Maryland. It means you can end your marriage immediately and can have property and alimony repercussions.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our attorney takes a sympathetic and understanding approach to divorce cases. We know how traumatic infidelity and divorce can be and will help you negotiate the legal minefield. Please contact us today at (410) 431-0911.