Adultery is not just a criminal offense in the eyes of the spouse who has been cheated on, but it is actually a criminal offense in 21 states in America, according to the Detroit Free Press. In these states, cheating in a marriage is punishable by a fine or even jail time. Some states have repealed their anti-adultery laws, but many remain on the books. However, many states’ anti-adultery laws are rarely enforced as the roots of this prohibition trace back to our country’s Puritanical beginnings. In most of the states with laws against it, adultery is a misdemeanor. Some states, however, categorize the offense as a felony.
Adultery a Crime in Some States
States that do have laws prohibiting cheating in a marriage typically define adultery as a legally married person having sexual intercourse with a person other than his or her spouse. In practical terms, committing adultery in a marriage poses little risk of prosecution.
Nevada is not one of the states that criminalizes adultery.
Consequences of Adultery
Committing adultery can, however, have civil consequences in some states, including impacting child custody battles during a divorce. Studies show that over 50% of marriages will be affected by adultery in some way, and these often end in divorce. Some states prevent an unfaithful spouse from receiving alimony after a divorce. This is not the case under Nevada law.
In a famous divorce case handled by Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln represented a husband whose wife had committed adultery and then abandoned him. In Illinois, adultery and abandonment are two justifications for divorce, and given the options, Lincoln recommended that his client sue for abandonment so as to avoid dragging his wife's name through the mud. This pact between two chivalrous men backfired, though, as the judge awarded a significant sum in alimony against the husband. Rethinking his strategy, Lincoln amended his complaint for divorce, alleged adultery, and got the alimony award reduced.
Adultery, mental cruelty, and other grounds for divorce are not necessary for the purposes of dissolving a Nevada marriage. As a matter of fact, Nevada courts are not allowed to consider either spouse’s misconduct during the marriage when deciding whether to award alimony. This is because Nevada is a no-fault divorce state. Nevada can, however, consider money spent on the affair by the cheating spouse when deciding how to divide the couple’s property. Even though Nevada is a no-fault divorce state, any financial misconduct on the part of the adulterer, including money wasted on an affair, can be considered during property division. Moreover, adultery does not typically affect a Nevada court’s decision on child custody and visitation rights. The exception to this rule is if the unfaithful spouse’s current relationship has a negative effect on the children.
Adultery Can Affect Other Issues
Beyond this, cheating on a spouse may even be grounds for losing a job. This is particularly a consequence in the military, where adultery can have the maximum punishment of a dishonorable discharge as well as confinement for one year. According to the National Post, in 2013 as many as 30% of recently fired U.S. military commanders lost their jobs due to sexual misconduct, including adultery.
Adultery Not Illegal in Nevada
If you have questions about adultery in Nevada and how it affects divorce, speak to a family law attorney. If you have questions about an injury, contact the lawyers at Parry & Pfau today: (702) 879-9555.
(image courtesy of Paul Garcia)