Affairs are a hot topic in a divorce firm, and we field questions every week on how it can impact your divorce case. An affair can cause a wide range of negative emotions for one or both parties within a divorce, and those emotions can often bring a whole new slew of questions and considerations. Here, we answer the three most common questions we get about the effects of an affair on divorce litigation.
Can I get more money if my spouse is cheating on me?
Illinois is a no-fault state, so you cannot get more money as a result of an affair, but you can certainly receive a fair share of the money and assets that are already owed to you. If a spouse has been spending marital money for non-marital purposes after the breakdown of the marriage — for example, spending money on fine dining, trips, luxury apartments, expensive gifts, etc. for their paramour — this is called dissipation. In this case, the court can order that funds be paid back to the estate for distribution.
Can I get Sole Custody (now known as Allocation of Parental Responsibility) if my spouse is having an affair?
The short answer is no, an affair itself is not grounds for sole allocation of parental responsibility. However, the court may question your spouse’s ability to parent and make healthy decisions for your kids, and could order sole allocation of parental responsibility in the following scenarios:
- Your ex prematurely introduces their partner to your children — for example, if the children thought you were a happy family last week, and this week your ex is introducing a new partner. Eventually, timing may be right for the introduction of significant others, but if this occurs prematurely, the court could take this into consideration;
- Your ex has a frequent turnover of partners — either multiple at the same time or changing them every few weeks — and your kids know about them or have met them;
- Your ex frequents dating apps like Tinder or Bumble and often invites new strangers into the house in the presence of the children. This could be considered an endangerment to the kids.
These instances are not guaranteed, however, and it is important to discuss any legal strategy with your attorney.
Are there any other ways another relationship can affect a divorce?
From a legal standpoint, there are not many scenarios in which an affair does affect a divorce. But from a personal standpoint, anger, resentment, and hostility can cause a lot of people to not focus practically on their case, thereby extending the litigation and avoiding settlement. If you are in the position where you are wanting to start dating or are in a relationship during the pendency of your divorce case, it is best to do so as discreetly as possible, to avoid introductions to kids, and to not spend marital money on your new significant other.
If you’ve caught your spouse having an affair and need legal assistance, contact our offices for a consultation.