Lawyers who practice divorce law are frequently asked about the effect of adultery by one spouse in a divorce case. There are two principal areas in which adultery may affect the outcome of a divorce case. In Maryland, if a party can prove the other spouse has committed adultery, the party whose spouse committed adultery can file immediately for an absolute or final divorce. However, the ability to file immediately does not mean that the divorce will be granted immediately. However, once adultery is proved, it is grounds for an absolute divorce in Maryland.
In addition, under the Maryland Family Law Article Section 8-205 for the granting of a monetary award to adjust the equities between the parties, there are eleven (11) factors that the court must consider. One of those factors is found at 8-205 (b)(4) which is “the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties.” Thus a court could award more marital property to a spouse whose husband or wife has committed adultery after considering all of the eleven (11) factors based on the adultery that was committed. However, frequently the circumstances that contribute to the estrangement of the parties does not result in a larger martial award. It is in the discretion of the trial judge as to whether to grant a marital award when adultery is proven after considering all eleven (11) factors of the monetary award statute in Maryland.