Many broken-hearted individuals wind up in a lawyer’s office with the question, “Can I use my spouse’s adultery as leverage in our divorce?” Many are shocked to learn that, in California at least, adultery has little practical value in a divorce from a legal perspective. This does not mean, however, that the adultery cannot be used in other ways to speed up the divorce process and to smooth the path to settlement.
It’s a Fine Line
Attorneys will generally tell divorcing individuals whose spouses are cheating two important factors to keep in mind as the divorce proceeds:
- Adultery does not convey any particular obligation on the cheating party to settle for less money or fewer visitation rights. However, spouses who are cheating may be willing to give up a great deal to continue their affairs, putting the other partner in a better position to negotiate.
- Blackmailing a former spouse by threatening to expose the adultery can be a tricky and dangerous business.
It may sound as if attorneys are telling their clients to simply give up and hand over their wallets to their cheating spouses. This is not actually true. The fact that a spouse is cheating may give an individual some practical ways to speed up the divorce process without crossing the fine line between blackmail and good business practice.
Things to Consider with a Cheating Spouse
The hardest part of finding out that a spouse is cheating is the terrible pain that ensues on an emotional level. Some people never recover emotionally without intensive counseling from finding out that their spouse have had affairs. Now is the time to go easy on yourself and deal with the pain as it comes up to avoid problems with future relationships.
However, this does not mean that you cannot act wisely and position yourself to make the best use of your newfound knowledge. Here are a few tips for those who have discovered their spouses are unfaithful:
- Do not confront your spouse or their lover. This is a quick way to get into very big trouble and perhaps even get arrested, which will not help your case.
- Keep a log or journal of your spouse’s actions, especially as they relate to the children. This is one way an affair may work to your advantage; if you can document that your spouse leaves the children continuously, as many cheating partners do, you may have grounds for more lengthy visitations or primary custody.
- Continue to pay your bills, but keep tabs on your spouse’s spending if possible. If you can show that your spouse used marital assets to further an affair, this may have an impact on your financial settlement.
The attorneys at the Men’s Legal Center are ready to help you negotiate the right divorce settlement for your situation.