So you caught your spouse cheating…You know your spouse is cheating and you’re wondering what to do next. The answer to that question really depends. Does your spouse know that you know or not? If your spouse knows that you caught them cheating, you’re going to have to deal with it. You’re going to have to deal with your spouse and the cheating. So the first thing you want to decide before you even engage in a conversation is to take some time and think strategically. Are you going to stay in the marriage? If you want to stay in the marriage, go to marriage counseling. You don’t have to listen to any more of this.
What NOT To Do
However, if you’re undecided or you may want to move forward with a divorce, there are some things that you need to do. The first thing though is that you should not have sex with your spouse. The reason that you can’t have sex with your spouse after you found them cheating (and you’ve decided that you’re going to move on) is because as a matter of law, having sex with your spouse after you discover they’ve been cheating is tantamount to forgiveness. You won’t be able to sue your spouse for divorce under the grounds of adultery. So don’t take away the leverage that you have regarding grounds for a divorce. It’s a very powerful ground for divorce.
The other thing you cannot do, at least not yet, is have sex with somebody else. In other words, don’t have a retaliatory affair. The reason you can’t do that is because that will also destroy the adultery as a ground for divorce. And that is a ground that you want to protect. So don’t have sex with either your spouse or another person until you have everything under control.
What TO Do
And then the third thing that you do is you file for divorce right away. You file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Adultery is a ground that has no waiting period. You don’t need your spouse’s consent. You don’t need an agreement. It’s definitely a “get out of jail free” card. So that’s you want to file right away. And the reason I’m telling you that after 30 years of practicing in divorce law, you want to strike while the iron is hot. Many times when your spouse knows they’ve been caught cheating, there is this overwhelming feeling of grief and almost an indebtedness. And you get a lot more of what you want in those very few, first few weeks, possibly months.
I don’t really think you have that long, but I believe what you should do is you file as soon as possible after you discover the adultery. You need to gather all of the information that you can about to the marital estate. In other words, all your financial documents. You gather as much as possible and you bring it to an experience divorce attorney and you make a plan.
The best approach is you that you don’t let your spouse know that you know that they are cheating. And if those are your circumstances that your spouse does not know that you caught them cheating – then what you need to do is figure out a plan. Don’t be reactive.
The Importance of Financial Documents
All of the financial documents you have – it all goes into deciding how everything is going to be divided. If there’s any support like alimony or child support, your divorce lawyer will need the documents. And by financial documents I mean, retirement statements, pay stubs, tax returns, credit cards, and all of the associated activity (monthly statements). There may be some credit cards may be in your name, some in his name, some joint – but all of the credit card activity is needed.
Go as far back as you can possibly get financial information. Once you have all of that, if you’re confident that you have it all, and it’s an easy divide, then you can proceed right to filing for divorce. And at the same time, you file for a divorce. It would be a good idea to get to put together a separation agreement and give with the complaint for divorce. The separation agreement would orchestrate what’s going to happen to dissolve the marriage. What’s going to happen with the family home, children, assets, child support or alimony, etc. All of that could be laid out in an agreement before the fighting starts. Because even if you’re angry, even if you’re fuming, it is a good idea to avoid the drama and to get a good settlement, a good resolve, a good way out.
Don’t Focus on Revenge
If the marriage is over, focus on your new life, dissolving the marriage fairly squarely equally, you may want to punish your spouse, but the court’s not going to do that. There’s only so much your spouse is going to take, but you may get a better deal with things like more time with the children, more custody rights, a longer period of you remaining in the house, etc. There are a lot of intangibles that may be more valuable than getting a few extra dollars. Sit down with an experienced divorce attorney, do your best not to lose your cool.
In other words, do not tell your spouse until you have your strategy, your plan, and you are ready to go forward. Keep it a secret until you are ready to go. That’s how you stay in control. Take some time, calm down, and then start the divorce process.
Talk to an experience divorce attorney in Germantown
We have been helping clients through the divorce process for more than 30 years. Our team at Paré & Associates, LLC (formerly Law Office of Alice Paré) are experienced, compassionate and committed to helping you throughout your situation. Feel free to call us or visit us online to schedule an appointment if you need help.