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Child custody and the role of fault in a divorce

In story that has made headlines all across the country, a website that promoted and facilitated affairs among married people was recently hacked and the information of some purported participants was made public. The affair-based social media site shines a painful light on one of the major factors that can drive married people apart: adultery. In California, only no-fault divorce is recognized as grounds for ending a marriage, but the factors that led to the breakdown of the marriage can be addressed when it comes to sorting out divorce-related details like property division and child custody.

Adultery can have profoundly negative consequences for the children of a marriage. In some cases the parent who engages in an extra-marital affair chooses to form a relationship with someone that his child or children know. Trust between parent and child may be eroded by the adulterous relationship and a child's confidence in a parent may dissipate as well.

All of this can factor into whether a child's opinion of whom he should live with will be considered by a California family law court. Children who meet certain age requirements can share their child custody preferences with the courts handling their legal matters; if adultery is part of the basis on which a child's parents' divorce is based, it may impact the child's preferences for physical custody.

Courts consider the best interests of the child when making determinations about joint custody or separate custody regarding the physical and legal maintenance of children. Adultery can have a deleterious impact on children whose parents later go through divorce. Its influence on child custody matters may be different in each family's situation and may result in different child custody rulings within similar jurisdictions.

Source: ABC News, "Ashley Madison, Meet the Kids: Infidelity and Divorce," Leanne Italie, Aug. 27, 2015

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