Three Ways Cheating Can Affect Your Divorce Settlement

Cheating or an affair may have ended your marriage — but will infidelity impact the terms of your divorce settlement?

Even for couples who file for divorce under the no-fault grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” a recent CNBC article on out-of-court, negotiated divorce settlements found three key areas where cheating can affect how much spouses give up or receive in their divorce:

1. Terms of a Prenuptial Agreement

If the prenuptial agreement you signed before getting married contains a clause such as, if you cheat, you become ineligible for alimony, be prepared for your spouse to act upon this — or use it is as a heavy duty bargaining chip in negotiations.

2. Compensation for Money Spent on an Affair

Jewelry, trips, restaurant tabs. If you have enough evidence that proves your spouse was spending lavishly on a paramour — especially if the money came from a joint account — it could affect negotiations when dividing joint assets. In one case cited by CNBC, a husband rented a $5000 a month apartment for two years in order to conduct an affair. As a result, his wife ended up getting $120,000, on top of her alimony to compensate for that expenditure.

3. Poor Conduct or Abuse

If a cheating spouse flaunts the affair in the other spouse’s face (or worse), or the affair led the spouse to ignore family responsibilities, this could be used as leverage in negotiations over things like spousal support. As CNBC cites, in a case involving an affluent couple where monthly alimony payments can range from 10,00 – 12,000 per month, these kinds of circumstances were used to argue for the higher amount.

Adultery can affect divorce negotiations in other ways too. When couples enter settlement talks or mediation, the spouse who committed adultery may feel embarrassed and could be quick to give up more assets than he or she ought to. Likewise, the other spouse is probably feeling angry and will only settle for an outcome that punishes the cheating spouse.

Deeply felt emotions are natural during a divorce, especially when adultery is at the root of why the marriage ended. However, remaining calm and rational can help you arrive at a settlement that is fair to you and your family — which, of course, is the true goal of divorce negotiations.