Infidelity during a marriage is one of the most difficult issues to tackle and often results in divorce. Whether it’s a physical affair, an emotional affair or an online relationship, it still really hurts and completely erodes any trust in a marriage. In the old days of fault-based divorce, infidelity was one of the legal reasons a person could seek a divorce. Now that Indiana and most states are “no fault” divorce states, neither spouse needs to prove the reason that the marriage is ending. As a result, the cause of the end of the marriage is no longer part of the legal process – even if the cause is cheating.
It is normal to experience a range of emotions when you learn that your spouse has been unfaithful. The anger and hurt and even a longing for revenge are normal reactions. But, these normal emotions and reactions are best worked through with a trusted therapist. Indiana, like many states, does not punish a cheating spouse in the division of marital property. Unlike the movies where the victim gets to “take him for everything he has” so he can “pay for what he’s done”, in Indiana, there is no “punishment” that the betrayed spouse can ask for from the Court. While your attorney will empathize with your situation, in most cases, you will hear the difficult news that the infidelity, which led to the end of the marriage will generally not impact how the marital property is divided.
In rare circumstances, when an unfaithful spouse has spent significant financial resources on “the other woman”, it may be possible to deduct that amount from the unfaithful spouse’s portion of the marital property. Spending money on extramarital activities, such as dinners, presents, weekend trips and even dating sites is what is known as “dissipation of marital assets”. This money was part of the marital estate and was not spent in furtherance of the marriage and/or household. Depending on the amount and ability to prove what was spent and by whom, your attorney can argue that this was either an early distribution of assets to the spouse who spent the money or could be a reason for the spouse who did not stray to receive more assets from the marital estate to offset what has been used. Talk with your attorney about whether this type of argument is cost effective in your divorce.
The other situation where an affair could be relevant is in divorce situations involving custody. If the other man or woman is someone who has been or will be around the children, he or she should be someone who is appropriate to be around them. Most spouses feel that – for example – the other woman should never be around the children; however, unless she has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, is on the sex offender registry, or has a conviction involving domestic violence or violence against children, the other woman is generally going to be okay to be around the kids. While this list is certainly not all-inclusive, the bottom line is that it has to be something significant to warrant an order excluding that person from being around the children.
Since the sting of the affair can be very painful, your attorney should suggest a support group, divorce coach or therapist to help you with the emotional aspects of your divorce issues. This person is far better equipped than your attorney to help you work through these emotions, and at usually a much lower cost. Contact the attorneys of Wanzer Edwards, PC to help you surround yourself with the professional support you need during this time.