Many people in Maryland remember hearing about the infamous affair that "Twilight" film star Kristen Stewart had with Rupert Sanders last summer. Sanders and Stewart had recently worked together on the set of "Snow White and the Huntsman," which he directed.
Stewart reunited with her boyfriend Robert Pattinson after the fling was publicized. However, although Sanders' wife, model Liberty Ross, appeared to give him a second chance, she has now filed for divorce. This may have left many people wondering how adultery affects the divorce process--will it give Ross the upper hand?
Ross and Sanders are divorcing in California, where the family law statutes are quite different than here in Maryland. California is a no-fault state, which means that the spouse who is asking for the divorce does not have to prove the other spouse is guilty of misconduct. So, in general, evidence of adultery would not be allowed in court because it is not relevant. However, there are exceptions. For example, if the adulterer was spending the couple's marital funds to finance an affair, it may become relevant.
Here in Maryland, no-fault divorce is possible only after a one-year separation. A fault-based divorce, however, can be granted more quickly and adultery is grounds for such a divorce. Thus, proving adultery can expedite the divorce process as well as influence the terms of a divorce settlement. In fact, adultery may, but will not necessarily, have an impact on spousal support, property distribution and attorney's fees, depending on the circumstances of the case.
However, under Maryland law adultery must be proved in court, and the paparazzi is not out photographing every extra-marital tryst like it did with that of Stewart and Sanders.
Those who plan to make accusations of adultery in Maryland may be wise to talk with their attorneys about how to corroborate such claims. By the same token, those who may be accused of adultery may wish to speak to their attorneys regarding the potential impact.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Liberty Ross files for divorce from director Rupert Sanders," Christie D'Zurilla, Jan. 25, 2013
- For more information about Maryland's divorce laws, please visit our family law firm's Frequently Asked Questions on Divorce page.