The bad behavior of one spouse can result in the decision of the other spouse to seek a divorce. Sometimes, the spouse who behaved poorly is the one who files for divorce, possibly because they have already begun a new relationship.

As someone wronged by your partner, you may want the courts to provide you with vindication by penalizing your spouse for their behavior and its impact on your life and marriage. Unfortunately, many people going through a divorce in Pennsylvania can make the proceedings more difficult, protracted and expensive in an attempt to punish their spouse without really knowing the likelihood of success.

Will the Pennsylvania courts punish your spouse for their marital wrongdoing during a divorce?

Spousal misconduct does not influence the distribution of assets and debts

If you and your spouse agree to terms for your divorce or if you have a prenuptial agreement, you can potentially file for an uncontested divorce proceeding. Otherwise, the chances are good that the courts will have to review your family circumstances and decide on your behalf how to split your assets and debts.

In Pennsylvania, the courts do their best to divide marital assets in an equitable manner, which means they seek a fair outcome for both parties. Fair to you could mean that your spouse incurs penalties for their adultery or other inappropriate behavior. However, such expectations directly contradict the written code in Pennsylvania.

The law clearly states that the courts may not consider marital misconduct when splitting up your assets. In other words, trying to prove adultery or claiming a large portion of the marital estate in the divorce could wind up making things more expensive while having little or no impact on the outcome of the divorce.

Some forms of spousal behavior can influence child custody

There are situations in which one spouse’s bad behavior may limit their parental rights. The Pennsylvania family courts try to split up custody in a way that reflects the best interests of the children.

A parent who cheats doesn’t pose a risk to the children, which means that infidelity won’t impact custody in most cases. However, if there is documentation that shows spousal abuse has been an issue, or that your ex has addiction issues or a history of neglect, that could influence the way the court splits up custody.

Instead of trying to find a way to punish your ex, it may be more productive to focus on ensuring your best possible outcome so that you can move on to a healthier and happier future. In some cases, that process may include working with your spouse and compromising on certain terms in order to facilitate a faster and cheaper divorce.