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How extramarital affairs may factor into you divorce process

If your spouse cheats on you, it may feel like the most significant life event to ever impact your marriage. However, it may not necessarily reflect as such to a judge. In terms of property division laws, cheating does not ordinarily impact divorce judgments unless valid prenuptial agreement terms related to cheating are enforceable. Why is this and in what ways could cheating affect your divorce? The answers to these questions are unfortunately complicated.

Most states enforce no-fault divorce laws exclusively. As a result, even if one person is proportionately much more at fault than the other for inspiring marital dissolution, the divorce settlement will not likely reflect this blame. Rather, marital assets will be split evenly unless extraordinary circumstances or prenuptial and/or postnuptial agreements insist on a different approach to property division.

However, the extramarital affair may impact your divorce settlement in substantial ways depending on the approach that you and your spouse each choose to take. Some cheating spouses give away substantial amounts of property out of guilt. Whereas others attempt to keep as much property in their possession as possible in order to hang on to some sense of control over what remains of the marriage.

On the flip side, the wronged spouse can drag out proceedings and inflame the situation due to anger. Wronged spouses also sometimes give up great amounts of property because they do not want to have to fight or otherwise deal with the spouse who hurt them.

Therefore, it is critical for you to understand that while the court may not explicitly take an extramarital affair into consideration when constructing a divorce settlement, the affair can affect the process overall. Please speak with an experienced attorney about how to keep the affair from leaving you with an unfair divorce settlement when all is said and done.

Source: Huffington Post, "Why An Affair May Not Matter In Your Divorce," Susan Saper Galamba, Apr. 29, 2013

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