Infidelity/Affairs in Divorce: What you need to know
As a divorce attorney, one of the most common reasons that clients seek divorce or are required to respond to a divorce filing involves addressing infidelity in their marriage. Infidelity is one of the most common reasons for divorce. It can be a devastating betrayal for the betrayed spouse, and it can make it very difficult to move on from the marriage, for some both, mentally and emotionally.
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If you are considering divorce due to infidelity, it is important to understand how it can impact the divorce process. Here are a few things to know:
1. Infidelity can be grounds for a fault-based divorce. In Missouri, fault/infidelity can be considered by the court related to asset and debt division, a consideration for maintenance and can be weighed in regard to determinations of child custody and the best interests of the minor children. In Kansas, the court has more stringent considerations for applying infidelity with the requirement that the affair must result in an inequitable financial impact on the marriage in order for the court to consider it. While maintenance in Kansas generally is not effected by infidelity, similar to Missouri, many judges consider ramifications of a parent’s affair/infidelity such as their moral example, their priority (or lack thereof) for their children, among other factors related to the best interests of the children.
2. Infidelity can be considered a factor in child custody and support decisions. As enumerated above, the mere fact that a parent has had an affair cannot be used as a punishment for child custody nor for child support, but a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney can certainly find avenues to tie a parent’s affair/infidelity to his or her parenting and prioritization of the children involved. As all courts are required to consider the best interests of the children as a paramount determination in any custody award, it is not difficult to see how a parent’s focus and wrong-doing can negatively affect this consideration.
If you have children, the court will consider all relevant factors when making decisions about child custody and support. Infidelity may be one of the factors that the court considers, especially if the parent’s behavior had a negative impact on the children.
3. Infidelity can, and often does, make the divorce process more contentious. Not only are there additional factors and considerations, but understandably, there are often more emotions, on both sides of the marriage/family situation related to the interjection of a third party in the marriage relationship. The spouses are not only dealing with the hurt of the loss of the marriage, but often, additional feelings of hurt, betrayal, dishonesty, among other deep hurt.
4. Infidelity can make it more difficult to move on from the marriage. The emotional pain of infidelity can make it difficult for both spouses to move on from the marriage. The betrayed spouse may have difficulty trusting others again, and the unfaithful spouse may feel guilty and remorseful.
If you are going through a divorce involving infidelity, it is important to seek out support from friends, family members, or a therapist. You may also want to consider working with a divorce attorney who has experience handling cases involving infidelity. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney can provide invaluable advice about how to navigate challenging times, feelings and legal/financial issues.
If you are addressing infidelity in your marriage and going through a divorce, how can you cope and not just survive, but learn to thrive?
Allow yourself to grieve. It is important to allow yourself to grieve the loss of your marriage, even if it was due to infidelity. Having hurt, emotions and even anger is necessary and appropriate. However, if you have children involved, it is crucial to their well-being that you display appropriate methods of dealing with and addressing your hurt. Children often look to the most important adults in their life to model how they should react and feel about major life events. If you model to the children that “life is over”, it is devastating, terrible and there will be no happy future, your children will begin to believe this. Instead, whether you need therapy, supportive friends and family or other resources, find the things that will help you thrive and be able to model to your children that life will go on and you and the children will continue to live happy, productive and successful lives.
Talk to someone you trust. Talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or support group can help you to process your emotions and get the support you need. Importantly, if you have children, being able to process your feelings will help you be available to help and support your children as they need similar assistance.
Take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally will help you to cope with the stress of divorce.
Don't rush into a new relationship. It is important to give yourself time to heal before you start dating again.
Seek professional help if needed. If you are struggling to cope with infidelity in divorce, a therapist can help you to work through your emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Remember, you are not alone. Many people go through divorce involving infidelity. There is help available, and you can get through this difficult time.
If you are struggling with the infidelity of a spouse, rather than reacting without a plan, you are wise to do your research, learn your rights and make a plan. Knowledge is power. Put the value of the team at Pingel Family Law to work for you today. Call (816) 208-8130 to schedule your consultation today.
Please contact us today to schedule your consultation at (816) 208-8130.
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