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Will the Divorce Court Punish My Spouse for Cheating on Me?

Posted on in Divorce

Naperville family law attorneysIt is hard to say exactly how many people have ever cheated on their spouse or significant other. Most such surveys on the issue are based on self-reporting, and those who cheat are not known to be especially honest about their behavior. Additionally, each couple may have a different definition of what constitutes being unfaithful. Of course, the statistics of cheating matter very little to an individual who learns that his or her spouse is guilty of infidelity. While many couples are able to rebuild after instances of cheating, others never fully recover and may elect to pursue a divorce.

Is Cheating Grounds for Divorce?

Under Illinois law, marital infidelity is not technically grounds for divorce. A divorce in Illinois will only be granted on the basis of irreconcilable differences causing an irrevocable breakdown of the marriage. Obviously, a cheating spouse can cause irreconcilable differences, but family courts in Illinois have no interest in establishing fault in a divorce. This also means, however, that the spouse who was cheated on does not need to prove that his or her spouse was unfaithful. In filing for the divorce, the offended spouse must only prove that the marriage is beyond saving.

The Effects of Infidelity on a Divorce

We live in a society where we largely expect wrongdoers to be held accountable for their actions. Convicted criminals go to prison, and companies whose products cause injuries are required to compensate victims. So, what about a cheating spouse? Could he or she face any type of legal or financial consequences?

The misdemeanor criminal offense of adultery is still on the books in Illinois, but prosecutors have virtually no interest in spending time and resources in pursuing such cases. As a result, the issue is left to the family courts to manage, but Illinois law gives almost no leeway for the court to punish marital infidelity.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act contains clear language in regard to financial matters like marital property division, maintenance, and child support. Statutorily, the court must decide on these issues “without regard to marital misconduct.” In practice, this means that the court cannot, for example, order extra spousal support for a stay-at-home wife just because her husband cheated. Marital misconduct is also not to be a consideration in matters related to parenting responsibilities. A spouse’s unfaithful behavior can only be factored in if it threatens to compromise the best interests or the well-being of the children.

Call a Naperville Family Law Attorney

If your spouse has cheated on you and you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer before you make any decisions. Call 630-352-2240 for a free consultation with the team at Pesce Law Group, P.C. today.



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