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Oct 4, 2013

How “Cheating” Complicates Divorce

Divorce and General Articles, Divorce Mediation

Having spent the last 18 years guiding over 5,000 people through our divorce mediation program, I have gained a lot of expertise about this challenging life transition. While divorce often feels like lighting yourself and your family on fire, cheating adds a gallon of gas to make it a bonfire.

There are often serious problems in the marriage that have not been acknowledged by either party before an “marital affair” begins. Once the affair begins, the problems eventually get acknowledged but often it is too late to repair the damage. Next, trust flies out the window and pain, anger and revenge take over.

A serious effort at marriage counseling can sometimes restores trust, but for most people, their pain, anger and revenge drive them to a divorce litigation lawyer’s door. They spend enough to buy their lawyer a new luxury car while they end up strapped for money to run and repair their used car.

Those that carry enough wisdom to know that they are better off in our divorce mediation program, still carry the pain, anger and revenge emotions but are encouraged to work through these difficult emotions with an experienced therapist. Although it is difficult, they are encouraged to take these emotions out of the discussions and place their focus on dismantling their old life and creating a new single life. They leave the divorce mediation program with more money, time and less stress to rebuild.

Pennsylvania Divorce laws do not punish cheaters the way many people believe it does or should. There is only one place that it comes into play and that is one of 14 factors that “may” be considered for alimony. It has no effect on the outcome of child support, child custody or asset/debt division (equitable distribution).

Right now we have couples in our divorce mediation program in our Newtown, King of Prussia and Doylestown (Bucks & Montgomery County) offices, who are struggling with the “cheating” issue. We see that the spouse who was the victim of “cheating” is more likely to make demands that go beyond what the court would award them. Sometimes the cheating spouse will give more out of guilt, but other times they choose to follow the law.

It is not as though our divorce mediation clients don’t struggle with these issues, but they do ultimately have the wisdom to accept the legal realities facing them. When they get beyond divorce, they can get rid of their used cars and buy themselves a luxury car.

If you are getting divorced as a result of a “marital affair”, please share your story and comments with our readers.