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Divorce Confidential: A Cheating Heart and Its Role in Divorce

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The story behind a divorce can be full of salacious details sometimes, especially when it involves an unfaithful spouse. In such circumstance, the drama is kicked up a notch and the careless actions of one spouse can wreak havoc on your emotional health and well-being. In a recent interview, celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow said that if she were ever faced with infidelity in her marriage to Coldplay musician Chris Martin, she would like to think she would be forgiving of the indiscretion.

While some couples are able to pick-up and move forward after infidelity. Other marriages however, are not able to withstand unfaithful behavior and unfortunately, divorce is the only option.

But does a cheating heart really play a role in divorce? The answer depends on where you live because the state you live in will have its own specific laws related to divorce and legal separation. In some states adultery may be grounds for a divorce, while in many other states, like California, it is not because California is considered a no-fault state. In a no-fault state, a spouse seeking a divorce has no obligation to prove that the other spouse did anything wrong. With that said, even if your spouse is unfaithful and there is a history of bad behavior in your marriage, it will not be taken into consideration by the Court because essentially, the Court doesn't care why your marriage has deteriorated.

There is a caveat however, in a no-fault state. If your spouse's unfaithful behavior affects the well-being of your children or puts them in danger, the Court will use its discretion and take this into consideration when making orders because of its responsibility to look out for your children's best interests.

So what do you do if your spouse drops a bombshell and reveals that he or she has been unfaithful? Here are some things to consider before you jump to file for divorce:

  • Take Time To Heal: Sometimes clients will seek out a divorce as soon as a cheating spouse is found out. This happens quite often because emotions are running high with shock, humiliation, brokenness and disappointment. However, it may be wise to take time to heal, process your thoughts and talk it out with your spouse. You may be able to work through the indiscretion. Or, if you decide to move forward with a divorce, the time you take to heal and process through your emotions may be beneficial in creating the foundation for a more seamless divorce and post-divorce harmonious relationship.
  • Determine your state's laws: Be sure to check out your state's laws before filing for divorce. You may live in a fault-state and this means adultery could be one of the grounds for divorce. In a no-fault state like California for instance, the two grounds for divorce is irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity.
  • Consider the Effects on your Children: When a spouse cheats, there will likely be waves of emotion that you have never experienced before. It is important to consider your emotions and its impact on your children and to remember that the infidelity issues should remain between the adults. If your spouse's indiscretion impacts his or her ability to parent your child, it will be important to discuss your options with a family law attorney since this may be taken into consideration by a Court.

Divorce is a difficult and painful process that requires you to adjust to a "new normal." However, your burden may be alleviated as you begin to explore your options, speak with both legal and mental health professionals and take the necessary time to heal.