Infidelity and the Courts

Broken HeartSo, you have now made the gut-wrenching decision to file for dissolution of marriage upon learning that your spouse has been having an affair.  To you, it matters not that it was an email fling or it was a full physical relationship.  Your trust is broken.  You are upset and hurt.  You have minor children to consider and you want to get back at the other party.  You want to run to court and tell the court that you spouse has had an affair and he/she is a bad person and should be punished.  Although, on a psychological basis that all makes perfect sense, it is not how the court system operates.

In the state of California, the court does not care if the other party has had an affair.  Any party in a marriage can file for dissolution of marriage for any reason or for no reason.  The fact that one party no longer wishes to be married is sufficient grounds in the state of California for that party to file for dissolution of marriage.  There is no basis nor does the court hear about, nor does the court care that one of the parties’ in this dissolution has had an affair.  

It is usually presumed that the dissolution of marriage is the result of either a disagreement over money, over sex, or infidelity.  Those topics tend to be the major causes of a dissolution of marriage in this country.  The current rate of filings for dissolution of marriage is somewhere in excess of 50 percent,    

The major concern  is how the minor children will react to the parents informing them that they are divorcing and what the children will do if the party that is having the affair introduces the children to the new girlfriend/boyfriend.  The introduction of the children to the new girlfriend/boyfriend is the only instance in a dissolution of marriage where the court takes any interest in the parties’ infidelity.  It should be obvious that children don’t want the divorce.  That children love both parents and children do not want to meet the “replacement parent”.   The children want their parents’ to stay together.  The general rule of thumb is that you should wait a year after filing for divorce to introduce your children to a potential new mate.  Even at that, the introduction to the children must very slow and careful.  It is important to set the right tone for the parent’s relationship with that “potential” new stepparent.  A simple introduction of the fact that this new individual in their lives is a “friend” of the parent is the easier way to ultimately transition the children into the new relationship.  

All of the married parties who have used the Ashley Madison website to engage in online dating, physical dating, or having a flirtatious email relationship are at risk.  Participating in infidelity will cause a marriage to fall apart faster than anything else, even arguments about money.  You may think that because of the court’s “don’t care if you had an affair” attitude, you are off the hook.  You would be wrong.  They care how you handle yourself toward your soon to be “ex-spouse” and your children.  In short, they care about your credibility.  The court’s primary concern is about how you handle this news and information with your minor children.  Your actions could have far-reaching effects that will destroy your marriage such that you will wake up one day and look around and really have no idea what you have done to turn your life upside down as a result of three minutes of excitement.  

Even though the court may not care about the affair itself, your children and the other spouse will care.  It will set a tone for the dissolution of your marriage that will cause you more heartache and headache than you could imagine in comparison to the gain you received from having the flirtatious relationship with someone you met online at Ashley Madison or some other dating website.  

Infidelity is also one of the biggest sparks to incite domestic violence.  The courts are full of domestic violence restraining order applications and police reports related to a fight between the parties that started over infidelity.