There are many ways that marriages end. Cheating and adultery are certainly a leading cause of divorce. In the Howard County school system, teachers often see anywhere from one quarter to one half of the students coming from households where the two parents of the child are divorced or otherwise no longer together. Taking a closer look at the emotions involved serves as a great predictor whether your divorce will be a civil one or a nasty one.
More often than not, there are problems within a marriage before a spouse strays. Of course, the other spouse might not be fully aware of the nature and extent of the problems within the marriage. If you and your spouse have been arguing, if the silence is deafening, or if you have already been in counseling, then sometimes, adulterous behavior is not far behind.
If you are the spouse who cheated, how are you supposed to act afterwards? Should you lie about it? Should you confess it all? Who should you talk to? A divorce lawyer? A counselor? Clergy? All of the above?
You are going to have many questions going through your head. Will this cost me more financially? Will it affect child custody? Child support?
My strong advice is for you to get to an experienced divorce attorney, even if you do not know whether you marriage is going to end in divorce.
Experienced divorce attorneys can provide you with a great education, many options, the names of great marital counselors, therapists, family counselors and divorce counselors. The best divorce attorneys will go over all aspects of finances to ensure that you understand your risks and can modify your finances to maximize protection in the event that you get divorced.
You will also want to know how an affair might impact your relationship with your children, both legally and practically. In its most basic form, adultery should not have a legal impact on child custody. However, it does not always work that way. How a spouse acts after having an adulterous relationship impacts on that parent’s character. Character and reputation are extremely important considerations when it comes to child custody and visitation. Are you picking the relationship with your new romantic partner over your children? Is your new romantic interest someone who has a bad relationship with your children?
In any event, before you get to a divorce attorney, here are a few things to consider.
Get ready for the strong emotions of your spouse and try your best to be empathetic and not stir the pot even worse. Don’t lie, but don’t give too many details. While adultery is a “grounds” for divorce and while it is also a crime (I do not recall any prosecution of this crime for the last 100 years that I could find), you need to decide whether you should invoke for 5th amendment right against self incrimination and stay silent, or whether you should tell all so that you and your family can move forward. This is not an easy decision to make. Get some help from an experienced divorce attorney and perhaps a therapist to work through the alternatives before making this decision.
Separate your conduct from your parenting. Don’t stop parenting! If anything, try to become an even better parent. Throw yourself into being a better parent.
Here is an additional thought that many spouses fail to recognize. Emotionally, you and your spouse are in different places. One spouse may be fine with the divorce and has already moved forward in life. The other spouse might still be fighting for the marriage to continue. Recognizing this is important, so that you can understand how the other spouse is reacting.
There is a path from point a to point b. You can get there, and life can get and stay better than it was. The path you choose will dictate how much-or how little-pain and suffering everyone will endure along the way. An experienced divorce attorney should be your guide in this process.