When a marriage ends after an affair, inevitably there are hurt feelings. The partner who engaged in the extramarital relationship might feel shame and guilt, and the partner who did not could feel hurt and rejection. This is normal. What many couples do not acknowledge is that – in most circumstances – the affair was a symptom of an unhealthy relationship and not the cause of it.
Many times, the hurt spouse begins her consultation with her divorce attorney by bringing up the affair and insisting on how to “make him pay” for ruining the marriage. Unfortunately, Indiana is a “no-fault” state, meaning that there is no penalty a court would impose for the extramarital relationship. No reason whatsoever needs to be proven for ending a marriage other than “irretrievable breakdown” of the relationship. In fact, even mentioning the name of the other man o other woman in court is contrary to law. Indiana has made it clear that the court will not assign blame or fault for the end of a marriage.
While the hurt spouse has a desire and need as part of her healing process to “tell her story” about how the marriage ended due to the affair, this is not necessarily a legal issue that a divorce attorney can remedy. The divorce attorney does not have the right training and experience to help the hurt spouse work through her grief and likely anger at the other spouse. The right person to handle these types of emotions is a mental health professional, who can help the hurt spouse work through the stages of grief at the loss of the relationship, usually at less expense than an attorney. While the hurt spouse often lobbies for a greater portion of the marital assets as “punishment” for the offending spouse’s behavior, the money usually doesn’t wipe away the hurt feelings or absolve the other spouse from guilt. Money truly does not buy happiness in this situation.
Especially when there are children of the marriage, it is imperative for both spouses to work through their feelings about an affair. Spouses cannot properly co-parent on an even playing field when the hurt spouse continues to bring up the “other woman,” and the other spouse is made to feel horrible about how much hurt was caused. If the feelings about the affair are not properly dealt with during the divorce, they will continue to infect and poison all interactions between co-parents for years, even when both parents have gone on to subsequent relationships.
If you are not sure where to begin healing after an affair, ask your divorce attorney for recommendations for the right mental health professional. Don’t spend the rest of your life, or your child’s, remembering and replaying the affair. You deserve happiness and your child deserves co-parents who are both healthy and happy. Contact Wanzer Edwards to get started.