Adultery in Kansas - Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

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Cheating tends to have a way of ending marriages. Not only is cheating itself a reprehensible act, it often reveals imperfections in the relationship that can lead to a divorce. In some states but not others, cheating could affect the amount of alimony payments that spouses are required to make after a divorce.

As many spouses know, cheating often has consequences. Aside from the effect of cheating on the marriage itself, cheating may affect the divorce process and any alimony awards received by the spouses. Each state varies on how exactly adultery will affect an alimony award, and so this article is intended to clarify that issue for the state of Kansas.

The Nature of Divorce in Kansas

Before discussing whether adultery or cheating would affect an award of alimony or spousal support, the nature of divorce in Kansas must be examined.Kansas has three grounds for divorce, only one of which is a true at-fault ground: the failure to perform a marital duty or obligation.1 The Kansas Supreme Court has held that the “failure to perform a marital duty or obligation” ground includes adultery, among other possible circumstances that could be considered marital misconduct.2 Kansas’s other two grounds for divorce are no-fault divorce provisions.

About Kansas Alimony Rules

Alimony is known as spousal maintenance in Kansas. Unlike the alimony laws of many states, Kansas’ spousal maintenance law does not provide a list of factors that Kansas courts should consider when awarding spousal maintenance. Instead, the law unbinds the court and gives it full discretion to make any type of spousal maintenance award it feels would be fair and equitable. So long as the amount is fair, the court can require maintenance to be paid either in a lump sum, in periodic payments (normally monthly payments), or as a wage garnishment that would amount to a percentage of earned wages.3

However, Kansas Courts have adopted a loose set of self-imposed guidelines which help courts award a fair amount of spousal support.4 Those factors include:

  1. The age of the spouses;
  2. Each spouses’ earning capacities;
  3. The length of the marriage;
  4. The amount of property owned by each spouse after the divorce;
  5. Each spouses’ financial needs;
  6. Family ties each spouse has available to rely on for support;
  7. The spouses’ overall financial situation; and
  8. Fault.

The Effect of Adultery and Other For-Cause Grounds for Divorce on Alimony

The statutory law is not clear on whether an adulterous extramarital relationship could affect the amount of spousal support. Hypothetically, a Kansas court could find a higher amount of spousal maintenance “fair, just and equitable” within the meaning of the spousal maintenance statute where one party was adulterous.5

As described above, however, Kansas courts have used fault of either of the spouses as a factor in determining spousal support. Therefore, adultery could affect the amount of spousal support. That said, the Kansas Supreme Court has sought to discourage the use of fault as a means of influencing spousal support because it believes that the economic factors are more important.6 In fact, many trial courts will not consider fault as a general rule, but the consideration of fault is ultimately up to the judge hearing the case.

The Verdict:

It’s complicated. While the spousal maintenance statute is vague enough to allow Kansas divorce judges to consider marital misconduct such as a spouse’s adultery in awarding spousal maintenance, Kansas courts have not been entirely consistent. While the courts technically can consider adultery as a factor in either awarding additional spousal support or reducing the award of spousal support to an adulterous spouse, the Kansas Supreme Court has attempted to discourage this practice.

If your spouse has been cheating on you and you plan to sue for divorce, you should consider contacting a local divorce attorney for assistance. Divorces involving adultery claims tend to be very messy lawsuits and will be very difficult to litigate on your own. Your rights can be best protected by proactively protecting your ability to succeed in your divorce litigation.

Note: This article is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for your specific situation.

Resources:

  1. K.S.A. § 23-2701.
  2. In re Marriage of Sommers, 246 K. 652, 655, 792 P.2d 1005 (1990).
  3. K.S.A. § 23-2902.
  4. SeeIn re Marriage of Sommers, 246 Kan. 652, 792 P.2d 1005 (1990); Williams v. Williams, 219 Kan. 303, 548 P.2d 794 (1976); Saint v. Saint, 196 Kan. 330, 411 P.2d 683 (1966).
  5. K.S.A. § 23-2902.
  6. SeeIn re Marriage of Sommers, 246 Kan. 652, 792 P.2d 1005 (1990).