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How does your spouse’s affair affect your divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2023 | Divorce |

Your spouse had an affair. Maybe learning about the affair was how you knew your marriage was over, or maybe it didn’t even start until after you’d started talking about a divorce.

These days, a spousal affair doesn’t seem that newsworthy. Even though adultery remains one of the recognized “grounds” for a contested divorce in Connecticut, the reality is that most people don’t think an affair will affect their divorce that much – and it might not, unless the adulterous spouse also dissipated a lot of the marital assets.

When one spouse uses up what belongs to both spouses, the court takes note

Typically, automatic orders go into place as soon as one party files for divorce. Those orders seek to preserve the status quo, so they generally forbid large expenditures or a lot of new and unusual debts. The goal is to prevent one spouse from wasting, or “dissipating,” assets that belong to the marital pot.

However, automatic orders sometimes come too late or get ignored. If your spouse was particularly smitten with their new romantic partner, they may have thrown caution to the wind and lavished that person with gifts, fancy dinners, spending money and exotic trips. That can quickly take a bite out of the family savings or dramatically run up the credit card debts.

That’s when the court will often take a different approach and try to resolve the inequity during the property division process. In general, if your spouse blew a lot of money on their affair, the court will probably look at the following:

  • Had the marriage already broken down or was your spouse clearly already contemplating a divorce at the time the money was spent? (In other words, the affair had to be close in time to the divorce, not years before.)
  • Was the spending excessive and out of the norm for your spouse? Was it largely in furtherance of the affair?

 

If so, the court may decide to divide both debts and assets unequally in the interest of fairness. You may walk away with a larger share of what’s left than your spouse, and they may end up with a larger share of the debts. In some cases, they may even be required to repay you some of the money that was wasted.

Divorce can be complicated, so make sure that you take the appropriate steps to protect your future interests.