Can Infidelity or Other Misconduct Help Determine Alimony in Wisconsin? | Case Law Friday – Ep 1
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Can Infidelity or Other Misconduct Help Determine Alimony in Wisconsin? | Case Law Friday – Ep 1

(upbeat calm music) – I am Tony Karls and today
I’m here with Anne Mclntyre she’s one of the attorneys
here in Milwaukee and today we’re gonna
talk about a topic related to how adultery or infidelity
in a marriage may or may not be impact, may or may
not impact the divorce and as it relates to
alimony or maintenance. So one of the questions
we get online sometimes is how does adultery impact
maintenance or alimony during a divorce? So how would you answer that question? – Okay so, Wisconsin is one of many states which is considered a
no-fault divorce state. That means when you file the petition, you don’t have to allege any
misconduct by either party. The only grounds for
a divorce in Wisconsin is that the marriage is
irretrievably broken. Wisconsin being a no-fault
divorce state also means that the conduct of either
spouse during the marriage is not relevant in deciding
issues such as alimony, also called maintenance or
property and debt division. There’s a landmark case
that addressed this issue. It’s a Wisconsin Supreme Court
case called Dixon vs Dixon. It’s from 1982 and the
court addressed this issue of whether in this case it was
the wife who wanted the court to consider her husband’s
infidelity when granting a maintenance award. Essentially she was
seeking an increased amount of maintenance based on
her husband’s infidelity. And when this case was
decided, it was shortly after Wisconsin had revamped their laws and Wisconsin was newly
a no-fault divorce state as I mentioned. And with that, the court
decided no, that either spouses conduct and in this case the specifically the husband’s infidelity
was not a relevant factor in deciding whether and what
amount of maintenance to award to the spouse. The court reiterated that
the two primary factors when deciding maintenance
are the financial needs of the spouse receiving the
maintenance and the ability of the other spouse to pay. Really it comes down to that
the goal of a no-fault divorce case is really about the needs and the wellbeing of both parties. And then not to assign blame or fault or find one party guilty of
things that may have happened during the marriage. So it really comes down to
the, again, the financial needs of the spouse receiving the maintenance and the ability of the other spouse to pay the court is not gonna consider infidelity as one of the relevant
factors when deciding a maintenance issue. Now having said that there are
times that marital misconduct and particularly infidelity
could have, I would say ripple down effects on the marriage
and in order to make a case that there is some kind
of financial impact that infidelity created. The spouse’s conduct would have
to have some kind of sizable or significant impact on
the family’s finances. So an example might be if
in this case the husband was cheating on his wife and
perhaps taking lavish vacations with his significant other or
buying her expensive jewelry and those types of conduct
we’re having, again, a significant impact on
that family’s finances, on the marital estate, that
the impact of his infidelity could be considered a
form of marital waste, which would potentially have an impact when the court is looking
at a property division. So it’s that his conduct alone
that’s going to be a factor, but it’s the impact of that
conduct in this case infidelity that could become relevant
again if it has some kind of significant impact
on the marital estate. – So to sum that up, so
basically it sounds like adultery would not ended up itself
have an impact on alimony or maintenance at all
and it may have an impact on property division based on
was there a significant impact on the family’s overall
financial finances? And deemed marital waste by the court? – Yes, I think that’s correct. You won’t find adultery or
infidelity in the long list of factors that the court is looking at when deciding maintenance. But again, if the impact of
that conduct has a significant financial impact on the marital estate the conduct could be considered relevant in deciding property division. – Awesome. Well thanks I appreciate you
sitting down here with us today and talking to us and educating us about how divorce might be handled in a court. – You’re welcome. – Case Law Friday is a Sterling series focused on communicating
in layman’s terms, cases of precedent, statutes
that guide decisions and court procedures,
important to getting results and family law. Please like and subscribe. We hope these deep dive
conversations create clarity, enabling you to better
understand the rules that govern how decisions get made in family court.

One Comment

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