Ashley Madison Hack & Infidelity: What It Means For Your Divorce

The Ashley Madison hack brings attention to infidelity in relationships, which many people assume leads to an immediate divorce. Divorce shouldn’t always be the first option, and a person should consider some other options first: marriage and individual counseling, mediation and probably most important,  time.  While divorce very well may be the best option, it is best to be proactive about your options, rather than simply reacting to the emotions of the situation. Often times, a person will immediately file for divorce, pay attorneys’ fees and court filing fees, and later discover that divorce is not right for them, or they just aren’t ready to make that decision.

But what if you made the decision that divorce is your best option, and you want to take steps towards rebuilding your life? How will infidelity affect your divorce?

In most instances, infidelity has no effect on your divorce. While the current law allows you to list infidelity as a reason for divorce, it does not give you any more rights to property than if there was no infidelity in the relationship. Additionally, there have been new changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act which currently sits on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature. One of the changes would eliminate the “ground” of infidelity, which means you may not list infidelity as a reason.

While infidelity does not automatically lend itself to a spouse getting more property, or an award of greater alimony (now known as maintenance or spousal support), there are limited circumstances where it can matter:

  • Did the spouse use significant marital funds on an extramarital affair? If so, in certain circumstances, the spouse can be required to pay these funds back to the marital estate for an equitable distribution.

  • Is the spouse allowing several mistresses around the children? Is the spouse inviting strangers to the house from dating or affair websites? Is the spouse spending hours on the websites while the children are in his/her care? If so, each of these could mean that the parent is either not acting in the best interest of the children, or even worse, seriously endangering the children, which can affect custody and visitation.

  • Do you have a prenuptial agreement that allows for a larger payout if there is infidelity? If so, you could be entitled to more property or alimony, depending on the terms of the prenuptial agreement.

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