Can Adultery Affect Child Custody?

The short answer: No.

But there’s more to this question than can be summarized in a simple one-word answer. There are cases whereby a carer’s bedroom antics can influence one’s role as a caregiver and may be the cause for the court’s decision to change custody of a child/children.

The court attempts to give custody of the child to the parent who is more likely to show responsible parenting, and affairs can impact this status. The court sometimes sees a parent that goes through numerous affairs as the less likely custody choice if both parents are able to look after the child.

In The Child’s Best Interests

The court will ultimately make their custody choice when taking into account the best interests of the child. If there is a parent who usually assumes the role of caregiver, then they will likely choose that parent to continue looking after the child, leaving the other parent a supporter through both maintenance and visitation rights.

However, the choice also depends on the environment in which the child is brought up. Which home environment will prove the more loving, supportive and safe for the child is a difficult decision that the courts will have to make. Adultery and continual affairs with different partners is seen as a resounding negative. During litigated cases, a child is usually consulted by a child therapist and questioned whether or not they are embarrassed or confused about the relationships between the caregiver and his/her partners. If they are impacted negatively, then this will usually determine child custody.

The court will also be required to consider the partner of the caregiver. If the partner shows signs of destructive behavior, or can be in any way associated with the undoing of the child’s secure home life, then this will also impact the court’s decision.

Child custody cases are important because of their impact on the lives of children, so although adultery and affairs are not directly responsible for the choices made in litigated cases, they do influence factors that are important.

JA Attorneys specialize in child custody matters throughout South Africa. Contact our expert team today for professional legal assistance.