There she is…or he for that matter…seated in front of my desk with tears in his/her eyes and a mountain of papers. Barely able to compose herself, she tells me, “He’s been cheating on me, and here is all the proof.” Sure enough, there is the proof! And it is ugly. There are email exchanges, text exchanges, graphic photos, credit card receipts, phone records, PI reports, and sometimes even “DNA” evidence…oh boy. I take a deep breath.
How do I explain that in the context of divorce, here comes the truth, NO ONE CARES IF YOU WERE CHEATED ON?
I get it. It’s awful, it’s painful, and it may indeed say a lot about the cheating spouse, but as a legal matter (in New York), it won’t make a difference in what you get in terms of divorce entitlements. After gently empathizing with my client, I next deliver the news, “that all being said, as far as the divorce, your spouse can be swinging from chandeliers with his/her paramour, but as long as the children aren’t there, no one cares.”
There it is, the stunned look of disbelief…WHAT? No matter how many times I deliver the news, it’s heartbreaking. Here is my client, totally distressed. She has inevitably lost at least ten pounds from the stress, hasn’t slept for days, and probably spent at least $5,000.00 on a private investigator. What’s even worse is that she has probably, and unbeknownst to her, illegally obtained “evidence” which she couldn’t use in court anyway.
So what now? Well, first off, stop the investigation immediately. It has no use or purpose other than to upset you. You have plenty of evidence and there is no need to go any further. All this will do is upset you even more and interfere with your ability to make good choices for yourself.
I know that it is hard to do.
It becomes almost an obsession. However, for your own sake, I urge you to stop because it really does not make a difference, and it keeps you stuck. About 15 years ago I had a client whose husband was cheating on her. She found out in the most awful of ways…in person.
Yes, she came home to a stranger in the marital bed. It can’t get worse than that. Did you see the movie Silver Linings Playbook? If you haven’t, I suggest you do. It’s a great movie and it’s about a husband who discovers his wife is cheating on him; how he becomes obsessed with it, and it almost ruins his life.
Why No One Cares If You Were Cheated On
Anyway, back to my poor client. She was young, smart, highly educated and beautiful. She was also very trusting and naïve. She literally suffered a nervous breakdown and could not go to work. It was a very short marriage, just under two years. There were no children and no assets.
Other than get her divorced from this cheater, what else did she want? More importantly, what else could I fight for?
I was so moved by her plight and believed that having lost her job because of her husband’s cheating, that he should provide some spousal support while she got her life back in order.
The Husband’s attorney thought I was out of my mind, inexperienced, and all but laughed at my proposal that his client pay my client’s rent for a year. We went to court. We had a conference with the Judge. Guess what? The Judge agreed with the Husband’s attorney, told me my demand was ridiculous and that my client had to “get over it.” I was crushed.
I went back to my client to tell her that our demand was too high (translation, as in 100% too high). I will never forget the look of disbelief and disappointment in her eyes. Persistent young rebel that I was, I went back with a slight modification of my proposal. The attorney basically laughed at me, and we went back to see the Judge.
At that point, the Judge growing annoyed with my persistence and my client’s “hysteria” made a suggestion for a proposal.
When my client would not agree, the Judge told me that my client was “an @# idiot.” Uh oh. Now that was just way out of line. With my heart banging out of my chest, and my hands shaking, I said to the Judge, “I think that perhaps we should go into the courtroom and I will ask that your honor recuse himself.” He shot me a look. I added, “respectfully.” The Judge then made a “final” proposal and told opposing counsel that he was to make sure that his client took the deal.
We accepted. It was a moment of vindication for my client, and for me, one that I still haven’t forgotten.
That Judge, by the way, is no longer a judge or lawyer.
Other than that, and maybe one other which would make this blog just way too long (the Husband was cheating on his wife with her sister), cheating is NOT a factor in divorce, and people spend way too much time, energy and money obsessing over it. You are just too good for that type of life waster!
Well…..yes, legally with little exception most states are NO-FAULT meaning infidelity, financial malfesance, and any number of other issues are meaningless in a divorce-legally. BUT, finding out if your spouse is cheating is very helpful for the following:
1. Get a headstart in repositioning your finances, assets, etc. Put yourself in the most advatageous position.
2. Get a headstart on therapy. Infidelity is at the top of the list of grief causing situations and can destroy you unless you get help transitioning through the process. Get something to sleep; exercise; get a new job or a job.
3. If you are going to end up with nothing make sure “they” end up with less-if there’s another spouse in the sceanario, make sure you give them the evidence. Co-workers? Good probablity there’s a policy at their place of employment of a no personal relationship with employers or employees. (Typically a higher up is doing it with a low rung employee.) Sell all the jewery, gold, china, artwork, their stuff. You have every right to do whatever you want beofre a separation/divorce filing.
4. If they are lying about one thing I assure you they’re lying about other things-drugs, finances, multiple sex-partners……find out about that stuff too to protect yourself. See a doctor and get tested.
5. Accept that their family while possibly sympathetic, will usually drop you from their lives…accept that.
6. Protect your children; do nothing that will hurt them.
Aaaaaaw typical woman. Your first two pieces of advice were genuinely golden. The third though showed your true colors; how vindictive and childish women actually are. You dedicated the most words, time, and thought to number 3. And it isn’t a wonder why?Women imo are inherently vindictive, untrustworthy creatures. Always waiting for a way out, or a way to get even. It’s why most men are conditioned to be untrustworthy of them from an early age. By their mothers, no less. Nor is it anyone right to sell shit not theirs because their feelings are hurt lol. Even this article puts on display the entitled childish attitude women have. “He cheated on me so I WILLINGLY quit my job, so he should pay my rent for a year!”
Are you fucking kidding me? She isn’t mentally ill. She does not have chronic anxiety or depression that prevents her from work. She got sad and quit her job because she figured it’d all work out once her ex was paying for she and her new boyfriends pad. The fact both the lawyer and wife were so shocked and in disbelief that they weren’t entitled money for existing is a testament to the level of entitlement women feel toward men. “Wait… You mean he DOESNT HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF ME BECAUSE I CHOSE TO QUIT MY JOB? WHAT DO YOU MEAN I DONT UNDERSTAND?”
I imagine it’s that exact vindictive, selfish, entitled attitude that pushed the husband to cheat in the first place. Maybe he wasn’t the issue. Maybe she was.
She should have cleaned him out, #### his best friend, and then some.
It actually depends on the state. I live in North Carolina. According to NC laws, because my husband had an affair and is considered the “supporting” spouse because he makes more money than I do, he is required BY LAW to pay spousal support. We negotiated the terms and the amounts with our lawyers but the law requires alimony. On the other hand, if I, the “dependent spouse” had an affair, then I relinquish all rights to alimony.
Mark R says
You want love but you act in a way that makes it impossible for men to love women. You are turning relationships into a cynical, follow your selfish desires wherever they take you, landscape. Very poor that you seek to drag other women down with you.
Melissa Ann Sullenger says
MARK R. ….OH MY GOD you are a total JACK ASS .. It’s so obvious that you yourself are just another lying, cheating, emotionally inept male who is unable to acknowledge his own moral failings and plans to forever find someone else to blame his own bad behaviors on. If this isn’t the case then it’s just downright freaky that you would feel it necessary to post such an obscure comment wherein the point of your statement is to be a defensive advocate for a home-wrecking, cheating, other woman. The only empathy a man like you, ever has, is for himself! You aren’t fooling anyone by pretending otherwise!
Why were you so shocked at the idea that a woman who willingly quit her job with no mentioned history of mental illness which would effect her ability to work, would not be entitled to living free for a whole 12 months? In your head is that what SHOULD have happened? That because she CHOSE to quit her job, her EX husband should have to foot all of her bills, despite she was a working woman herself? This reeks of entitlement of the highest order to me.
Rick, are you one of those cheating husbands? Hit dog holler
Gina Jones says
This article is very misleading. Whether or not adultery matters depends on the state law. It can be considered a “fault” factor in why the marriage ended and therefore can result in a monetary benefit to the spouse who did not commit adultery. Also, many couple choose to file “no fault” divorces because they just want to move on.
DivorcedMoms Editor says
The only monetary benefit to the victim spouse will be the recovery of monies and assets used during the affair to promote the affair. A judge isn’t going to give a spouse more spousal support or more assets because their spouse cheated on them.