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The consequences of marital infidelity on divorce

When a couple decides to part ways, the process that follows can be emotionally charged, taxing -- both psychologically and potentially financially -- and difficult for most people. Divorce is not easy. Various issues may dominate a divorce proceeding ranging from child custody to property division. But, what are the consequences of infidelity in a marriage? What impact, if any, does it have on the divorce proceedings?

In order to understand how infidelity may impact a divorce proceeding, it is first and foremost important to know that all states in the US, including Michigan, follow no-fault divorce law. This means that the spouse who files for a divorce does not have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse. The typical reason that most divorcing couples cite is irreconcilable differences. Courts do not consider blame and apply formulas in place to determine any child support and alimony obligations. However, infidelity clauses are sometimes included in prenuptial agreements.

If a prenuptial agreement between a couple has an infidelity clause which clearly states the consequences of infidelity, such as a monetary award if one spouse finds another spouse in a compromising situation or has concrete evidence of cheating, then the prenuptial agreement will be honored. In fact, in one case, the prenuptial agreement noted that if the husband cheated, and the wife was able to prove it, then she would control all of her husband's real estate holdings. The wife is now in control of her ex-husband's real estate holdings.

Further, it is important for a divorcing couple to consider the cost and affordability of divorce in light of financial resources available. In essence, in a no-fault state like Michigan, infidelity in the marriage does not matter. But, if a couple has an infidelity clause in its prenuptial agreement, a court may honor it and one person may be entitled to a financial award. It is important to seek expert legal advice in these matters to decide if a prenuptial agreement is right for one's situation and if a prenuptial is already in place, to determine if a court will accept its terms.

Source: Sowetan, "Does cheating cost you in a divorce?," Geoff Williams, Dec. 19, 2012

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