Divorcing a Cheating Wife in California 2024 – What You Need to Know

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Jun 12, 2023

When you get married, you trust that your spouse is going to love, honor, and respect you during your marriage. You may strive to be as open and honest as possible while working to resolve any issues that arise. Unfortunately, not everyone adheres to those same values, and some partners are unfaithful.

If a wife cheats while she is married, then trust is broken, and she may choose to pursue a relationship with the affair partner. As a result, in many circumstances, the marriage will end in divorce. The divorce process is often challenging, regardless of the circumstances, but infidelity can make it even more emotional as you work to finalize agreements such as the division of property and spousal support. An experienced property division attorney from Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, can help you understand how your wife’s infidelity may impact your divorce.

The Divorce Process in California

When you make the decision to end a marriage in divorce, it can feel overwhelming. Lives that were previously tied together in nearly every way possible are being taken apart, which can take a great deal of time and attention. The divorce process in California consists of four main steps.

  1. File the Correct Papers: One spouse will have to file a petition with the courts to end the marriage. The other spouse will have an opportunity to respond.
  2. Provide the Necessary Financial Information: The spouse who filed the initial paperwork will be required to provide all their financial information, including things like income, expenses, debts, and assets. If the other spouse files a response, they will also have to provide this information, but they are not required to respond.
  3. Make All Major Decisions: This is often the most difficult part of the process. Issues like child custody, asset division, and spousal support will need to be resolved before the divorce can be concluded.
  4. Get the Divorce Finalized: Once all the necessary decisions have been made, and an agreement has been reached, the divorce will be finalized by a judge.

This entire process will take at least six months, as California has a mandatory waiting period, but it could take much longer if there are any delays. One aspect of a divorce that could cause tension and delay the finalization is the division of assets, especially if one spouse cheated.

Community Property in a California Divorce

California is a community property state, which means that all property and assets that the couple collected during their marriage, such as homes and stocks, are considered shared property. Prior to a divorce being finalized, both parties will have to agree on how their assets will be divided equally. If a wife cheated during the marriage, then her spouse may be much less willing to negotiate and resolve this issue. Unfortunately, cheating does not impact what a wife is entitled to during the divorce, so an unfaithful spouse is still entitled to half of all community property.

How Cheating Can Affect a Divorce in California

Cheating does not have an impact on property division in a California divorce and will have very little bearing on the outcome of the case overall. In addition to being a community property state, California is also a no-fault divorce state, which means that an individual filing for divorce is not required to provide a specific reason for ending their marriage. As devastating as it may be, cheating may only impact two areas: alimony and issues involving children.

  • Alimony or Spousal Support: If a spouse cheated, and it negatively impacted the other party’s mental health, then the unfaithful spouse could be responsible for their treatment. Alimony may also be lessened if a cheating spouse moves in with their new partner during the divorce.
  • Child Support and Custody Orders: When a parent cheats, it can put their children in unsafe situations. If it can be proven that a child was harmed as a direct result of their parent’s infidelity, it could negatively impact their custody, visitation, or child support orders.


Q: What Happens in a Divorce When a Spouse Cheats in California?

A: While infidelity is very painful and difficult to deal with, in reality, it does not have much of an impact on the divorce process in California. One party will file a Petition for Dissolution, assets and property will be divided, and all other major decisions will be finalized. One aspect of a divorce that cheating can impact is alimony/spousal support and child support payments, depending on the circumstances of the infidelity.

Q: What Is a Cheating Wife Entitled to in a Divorce?

A: California is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the spouse filing for divorce does not have to give evidence for why the marriage is ending. It is also a community property state, which means that all assets and property that were gained during the marriage are divided equally between spouses during a divorce. These factors mean that, regardless of any unfaithfulness during a marriage, the cheating spouse is still entitled to their share of assets and property.

Q: Does Cheating Affect a Divorce Settlement in California?

A: As a community property state, cheating has very little impact on a divorce settlement in California. All assets and property that were obtained during the marriage will be divided evenly between the spouses. In certain circumstances, however, infidelity can impact alimony payments if the cheating spouse moves in with their partner during the divorce. Cheating can also impact custody and child support, particularly if the child was put in danger due to infidelity.

Q: Is Cheating Ever a Crime in California?

A: Adultery is not considered a criminal offense in California. Therefore, despite how much it can impact a marriage, it cannot carry any criminal penalties. There are, however, some circumstances that involve cheating that may also include criminal charges. If a spouse is unfaithful during their marriage and responds with violence when they are confronted about their cheating, then they are guilty of domestic violence. This can carry either misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the severity of the violence.

Contact Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP

When your trust is broken in a marriage due to a partner being unfaithful, it can seem impossible to move on. The reality that you may have to split your assets and property with a cheating wife can seem unfathomable. An accomplished divorce attorney can work with you to ensure that the division of assets is as fair and equal as possible when your divorce is finalized. Contact the team at Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, for any divorce needs today.

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