Q: I just found out my spouse is having an affair. I also found out that my spouse has used our money to support the affair in the form of gifts, dates, and so on. My spouse says he wants a divorce. What can be done about the money that has been spent on the affair? Will the affair affect who gets custody of our children? How will the courts view the affair in general?
A: Minnesota is a no fault divorce state, meaning that the only necessary reason for a divorce is that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship. Therefore, the affair will have no impact on whether the divorce is granted. Nor will the affair impact the court’s decision on the custody of the children, unless there has been some impact on the children as a result of the affair. In terms of money spent on the affair, Minnesota law provides some direction. The law states that if a spouse has, in contemplation of divorce, spent money on things other than the usual course of business or for the necessities of life, the court must compensate the other party. That means that when the court divides the property of the parties, it can assign the entire value of an asset to the party who spent the money. In other words, if your spouse spent $5,000 on the affair in contemplation of divorce, the court is allowed to treat that $5,000 as if it was not spent, and would assign the $5,000 to your spouse. Practically speaking that means your spouse would receive $5,000 less than you would when dividing the marital money.
By: Letty Van Ert