Cheating during divorce: what next?
In This Episode, CEO Erin Levine discusses:
- Does having a cheating spouse help your divorce outcome?
- The financial impacts of having an affair in a no-fault divorce state like California.
- Truthfulness, credibility and your divorce judge.
- How a smart legal strategy could get you better results divorcing a cheating ex.
Actionable Steps You Can Take Right Now
- Read Erin’s article, Marriage + Infidelity = Divorce? Not so fast.
- Think about your legal strategy. See Erin’s blog, This is Why You Need a Strategy for Your Divorce for guidance.
- If you’re in the middle of divorce and just learned your ex is cheating, book a flat-rate hour of legal coaching with our team right now to map out your legal strategy.
Read the Transcript: Cheating During Divorce
Welcome to the Hello Divorce podcast. I’m your host, Erin Levine. I’m super excited to share with you my top insider tips for divorce, including actionable steps in bite-size pieces to lowering the cost, conflict, and confusion surrounding your divorce so that you can move on to that next awesome chapter with peace of mind and your financial and emotional wellness in check.
Today’s topic is: what do you do if you find out your partner was cheating on you in the middle of the divorce process? How can that help you, or does it even help you, with your divorce outcome?
This happens more often than you think. We’ve had many clients come to us who have said that they and their spouses have worked really, really hard to keep that marriage together, sometimes for months or even years, and ultimately one or both of them decided that it’s just not the right fit and it’s time for a divorce. Those divorces tend to be a lot more amicable. However, sometimes during the divorce, we find out later that one of the spouses has cheated. This happens across the board in gay marriages, in heterosexual marriages with both men and women.
In a recent case we had, our client found out that her spouse was cheating after reviewing many of the bank statements linked to her husband’s account during the divorce process. She found a whole bunch of charges that had nothing to do with her or the kids or her husband. There were charges to Victoria’s Secret. There were super expensive, pricey dinners, price charges to other women’s clothing stores. There was even a trip to Hawaii during the marriage that my client and her kids knew nothing about that was during a time that her husband was supposed to be on a business trip.
So, finding this out was a terrible revelation. My client was really upset. She was angry. She was sad. She had a million different emotions. And the first thing we had her do was pause the divorce, because it’s never helpful when you’re feeling that emotional to try and negotiate or litigate your divorce. It’s just impossible to be clear about your position when you’re feeling that level of emotion. So that’s the first thing we did.
The second is that our client really wanted to use this information to find out how it could help her in divorce. The first lesson we had to tell her, which was not her favorite thing to hear, was that in a no-fault divorce state, finding out that your spouse had an extramarital affair is not going to help your case in a really big way. In other words, it’s not going to be something where you get handed $10,000 or $100,000 for your spouse’s bad behavior. However, there are ways in which finding out that your spouse cheated on you during the marriage can help you.
As an example, in this case, we looked back to the bank statements and found out where community, or joint earnings, had gone to benefit this third party, the woman that her husband had been cheating with. We were able to recover those funds because half of her spouse’s earnings during the marriage are joint. They’re community. So to the extent that they were used for a non-community purpose for the benefit of this third party, we were able to recoup that money and give half of it to our client.
Another way that it really helped the case was that we were working with a private judge. Husband and wife had a lot of he-said, she-said disputes, and the judge was having a really difficult time determining who was credible and who wasn’t. Her spouse had complained over and over again that she was lying and that he was telling the truth. But when we brought out this evidence of him lying about the affair, it really took a turn in that his credibility was really put at issue. If he’s willing to lie about something as serious as whether or not he was cheating, what else would he lie about? So, that credibility piece really helped my client’s case.
In another case, we were able to use the evidence of the spouse’s cheating to help negotiate a good financial result for her. Most people know that in California and many other states divorce proceedings are public record. That means that anyone can go to that courthouse and get copies of the pleadings filed in your case. So in this particular case, our client’s ex did not want any evidence of her cheating out in public. She felt that it could affect her credibility in her current job position, that it could really do damage on her aspiring political career, and so on and so forth. So because of that, our client was able to negotiate a really good deal for himself in exchange for not disclosing any of this information about her cheating.
The moral of the story is that in most cases finding out that your spouse cheated is really crappy. It’s awful to hear. However, it’s not really going to make a big difference on 90 to 95% of divorces. In some scenarios, you can do a little bit of investigating or talk to a legal coach or lawyer and find out whether or not it can help you with strategizing your divorce outcome. And if so, I encourage you to use it because why not? A word of caution though. Don’t use it just to piss off your spouse. That’s not going to help. This divorce is about you, not your spouse. It’s about getting what you need to move on to that next version of yourself. So ,if you are going to bring up him or her cheating, you really need to have a plan and a strategy in place.
Okay, that’s it for today. Keep listening to this podcast for actionable tips to keep your divorce amicable, and affordable, and of course to cover all of your legal bases so you are ready for your fresh start.