If I have evidence of my spouse cheating on me, how likely am I to get full custody of my children?
Most divorce/custody cases are complicated and rarely are decided on one issue alone. The short answer to your question is: it always depends on each case’s unique circumstances BUT it is unlikely that mere, garden-variety infidelity would be a basis for awarding the injured spouse sole legal or physical custody of the parties’ children.
Evidence of cheating will not automatically result in the award of custody of the children, but it will not do your spouse any favors when it comes to resolving the child custody issue. Infidelity will give most judges (unless these judges are themselves unrepentant adulterers, and some are) an unfavorable view of your spouse.
Certainly, if you believe that infidelity is a factor that affects the award of custody of your children, should you present this evidence to the court, along with any other evidence that demonstrates why your spouse is unfit to have custody of your children. While each parent’s moral character is a factor that the court considers in making a child custody award (See Utah Code § 30-3-10(1)(a)(i)), the judge will make the child custody determination based on what custody award serves the best interest of the child. If the judge feels like a cheating spouse is—because of his/her infidelity—unlikely to provide a favorable living situation for your child, you are more likely to get full custody. I have never, however, seen this happen, and doubt that I ever will.
Keep in mind that your child should not be punished for your spouse’s infidelity. A child, especially a very young child, may not place the same importance on infidelity as you do. If your spouse and children have a strong relationship, and your spouse would provide a loving, safe environment for the children, seeking sole custody may be the wrong move, both for you and for the children. Indeed, if you try to demonize the other parent at every turn and for every offense—regardless of the relevance to the child custody issue—it may cause the court to question your motives and your morals, and you could find the court sympathizing with you less.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277