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Divorce Proceedings and the Potential Impact of Infidelity

cheating, infidelity, Illinois Divorce AttorneysWhile movies and television shows often attempt to show the affects of an adulterous affair, most depictions generally fall far short of capturing the true impact of such behavior. Infidelity in a marriage can be psychologically devastating, and, in many cases, the relationship never fully recovers. While some experts will point out that cheating is often a symptom of larger marital issues rather than the root of the problem, the fact remains that an unfaithful spouse can certainly play a role in the end of a marriage, and the impact of the unfaithfulness may be felt for many years into the future.

Grounds for Divorce

Did you know that adultery is technically considered a crime in Illinois? According to a rarely-enforced law, which seems to be a holdover from previous generations, either party to a knowingly adulterous relationship can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. A more widely-known and more commonly utilized law, however, recognizes adultery or infidelity as grounds for divorce.

There are several factors that a spouse seeking divorce on the grounds of infidelity should consider. An at-fault divorce does not require a separation period like that required in a no-fault marital dissolution so the process can often be completed more quickly. However, to obtain the divorce decree on such grounds, the petitioning spouse may be required to provide proof of adulterous actions to the court. The process of doing so can be extremely stressful, and often results in bitter and acrimonious divorce proceedings.

No Consideration for Marital Misconduct

While an act of infidelity may be sufficient legal grounds to end the marriage and adultery is still officially a crime, Illinois law does not allow such actions to be considered in certain aspects of the divorce process. Specifically, the law requires that the division of property and the establishment of spousal maintenance or alimony must be done “without regard to marital misconduct.” As such, a court must examine the statutorily prescribed considerations for each arrangement, but is not to allow either spouse’s behavior to impact the final decision.

Concerns for Children

Child-related matters in divorce, however, may be different. Child custody, visitation, and child support arrangements are determined with the goal of protecting the child’s best interests. The court may consider infidelity in such cases, but only if the affair is directly affecting the parent’s relationship with the child. For example, if the adulterous activity of the parent is leading to the neglect of the child, or the child has been exposed to inappropriate aspects of the affair, the court may include such concerns in its considerations.

As with divorce proceedings, it can be very difficult for a parent to justify to the court a request for limiting visitation or custody based on infidelity. The parent must be able to provide convincing proof that the adultery presents physical, mental, emotional, or moral danger to the child. Without such proof, the rights of the unfaithful parent to a relationship with his or her child are fully protected by law.

If your spouse has committed acts of infidelity, an experienced Kane County family law attorney can help you understand your options. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case and work with you in taking the necessary steps toward a more positive future.

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