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How Does Infidelity Impact Divorce Proceedings?

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By Lonnie Nelson
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If you’re going through a divorce and suspect your spouse has been unfaithful, it’s important to know how this can affect your case. Typically, infidelity has little to no impact on divorce proceedings.

However, there are cases where adultery does have a minor effect on a settlement. These indirect ripple effects can have an impact on asset and property division, child custody, and alimony awards.

Parenting Time and Parenting Responsibilities

In divorce cases, the courts often make decisions about parenting time and parental responsibilities (formerly custody). These are issues that are often complicated and can be difficult to resolve.

Parents can often work together to agree on a parenting schedule that works best for their children. However, it is important to be realistic and practical when setting a parenting schedule.

Parenting time can also vary by age and stage of development. For example, small children generally need more frequent contact with each parent for shorter periods of time, while teenagers tend to do better with schedules that have fewer transitions and longer blocks with each parent.

The courts are concerned about ensuring that children have regular and consistent access to both parents. Having an honest, frank and well-planned parenting schedule from the beginning of your divorce proceedings can help to establish a level of stability in your children’s lives.

The decision regarding custody / allocation of parental responsibility and parenting time also affects child support. For example, in Illinois, a parent with a majority of parenting time is typically obligated to help pay part of the childrearing expenses, including daycare and extra-curricular activities for the child.

Asset and Property Division

Financial infidelity is a common source of conflict for couples, and it can have a huge impact on a divorce settlement. Whether it involves hidden bank accounts, undisclosed debts or secret spending habits, these issues can make it difficult for divorcing spouses to communicate about finances.

Assets and debts are typically divided in a divorce, but the process can be complicated if there’s a dispute about the value or ownership of certain property. This is especially true for homes, vehicles, retirement funds and other property.

Most states follow the rule of equitable division when dividing marital assets and debts. This means that a judge will distribute the property in a way that he or she believes is fair (equitable) under the circumstances of the case.

The judge may also consider the needs of each party and whether or not one spouse is better suited to retain the family home. For example, if a spouse has custody of children and needs the house to help them thrive, the court may award the home to that party.

When a court determines how to divide assets, it will evaluate each asset’s value on the date of the separation. In addition, it will also consider any pre-existing prenuptial agreements that a couple has signed.

Child Custody

If your spouse has a child from an affair, this could have an impact on your divorce proceedings. Whether or not this person will be able to visit your children and how much time they will have with them may be a factor in a judge’s decision.

In most cases, a court will not consider a spouse’s infidelity when deciding on child custody or parenting time. The only exception to this rule is if the cheating spouse committed adultery in front of the children or exposed the children to improper behavior that could harm them.

Regardless, the courts will not approve an arrangement that is detrimental to your children. They will also not agree to a settlement or trial until they are certain that it serves your child’s best interests.

The most common type of custody awarded is physical, which involves the child living primarily with one parent (the custodial parent). In some cases, the noncustodial parent will be granted visitation rights. Those visitations will typically involve a clear schedule of dates and times that are set by the court. The custodial parent must inform the noncustodial parent of the child’s whereabouts and any changes in contact with the other parent. A judge can also order supervised visits.

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