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10 Common Misconceptions About Adultery and Divorce


Adultery and divorce are emotionally-charged topics that often come with many misconceptions. While your loved ones may have the best intentions, they can sometimes fall into the trap of spreading common myths surrounding divorce and adultery. Our attorneys weigh in and help you get clarity on what to expect from a legal standpoint if you are dealing with adultery in your relationship.

What Are the Most Common Myths Surrounding Adultery and Divorce?

Regarding infidelity in a marriage, almost everyone knows a friend “who knows a guy or girl” that went through something similar. Sometimes, these conversations are helpful, and other times, they may only worsen your situation – especially when they spread one of the many common myths about adultery and divorce. Here are 10 of the most frequent ones.

1. Adultery Is the Sole Cause of Divorce

Adultery per se is not the only reason for divorce – in fact, not every couple that struggles with infidelity gets a divorce. Other factors, such as communication breakdown, financial disagreements, or irreconcilable differences, can all play a part in causing a marriage to come to an end.

2. Adultery Guarantees a Favorable Divorce Settlement

Because most states have no-fault divorce laws, the fact that either side may have engaged in marital misconduct (including adultery) is no longer significant and may not always affect the outcome of issues such as custody arrangements or property division. The amount of work, time, and expenses required for a fault-based, fully-litigated divorce outweigh any potential benefit the non-cheating spouse may receive, leading many divorcing couples to choose a no-fault divorce.

3. Adultery Automatically Grants Custody to the Non-cheating Spouse

Just because a parent committed adultery, it does not mean they are an unfit parent. Likewise, the court will likely not use that against them – custody decisions have the child’s best interests as the priority. Factors such as parental stability, emotional bonds, and the ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment weigh more heavily in custody decisions than whether both spouses were faithful to each other.

Is It True That Adultery Always Leads to a Difficult Divorce Battle? (#4)

While adultery can ignite strong emotions, not all divorces involving infidelity result in bitter and prolonged legal battles. Many couples choose alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or collaborative divorce, to minimize conflict and reach more amicable solutions. The outcome largely depends on the willingness of both parties to cooperate and prioritize the well-being of everyone involved.

5. Adultery Means Your Spouse Keeps It All

In most cases, adultery does not influence the way in which marital assets are divided, with one exception – if the spouse committing adultery was also squandering marital assets, that can weigh negatively against them and result in a division of assets that is more favorable to the other spouse. Otherwise, assets are typically divided according to what the state considers an equitable division.

6. Adultery Is Always a Sign of a Failed Marriage

While adultery often indicates serious issues within a marriage, it does not necessarily mean the entire relationship is a failure. Some couples can rebuild trust and mend their marriage through counseling and open communication.

Is It True That Adultery Is Always Deliberate and That You Have to Get a Divorce After Discovering It? (#7)

Relationships are full of gray areas, and things are no different when it comes to adultery. While many instances of adultery are but a deliberate and conscious decision causing a breach of trust, other extramarital affairs may occur for various other factors, such as emotional dissatisfaction, personal insecurities, or other complex reasons. Likewise, no hard and fast rule dictates that initiating a divorce is the only logical next step after discovering your spouse has had an affair. Every relationship is unique and adultery does not have to mean the end of the road.

8. Divorce Is the Only Option After Adultery

Discovering that your spouse has been involved in an affair can be devastating, but as mentioned previously, divorce is not the only path forward. Some couples seek marriage counseling or therapy to address the underlying issues and rebuild their relationship. There are also a few different legal options to help couples rebuild trust, such as drafting a postnuptial agreement with the help of an attorney.

9. Adultery Is Always a Reflection of the Non-cheating Spouse’s Inadequacy

Infidelity is a complex issue that often involves a combination of personal and emotional factors. If you feel inadequate or blame yourself because your spouse has cheated on you, it will only make it more difficult for you to find a way forward and make the right decisions for your relationship.

10. Divorce Is the End of Happiness

Lastly, divorce is not synonymous with the end of happiness. While it can be a challenging and emotional process, divorce can also give individuals an opportunity for a fresh start. It does not have to define your worth or your future.

What Options Do I Have if I Am Not Ready for a Divorce?

If you are struggling with infidelity in your marriage but are not ready to get a divorce, you have other options. You may be able to get help through marriage counseling or spend some time apart through a legal separation to get some space to think clearly if so reach out to our experienced advocate for family breakdowns. Whatever you decide, the legal team at Hepner & Pagan is here to support you with all your family law needs. Call us at 408-688-9153.

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