The feelings of betrayal and hurt that a cheating spouse can cause are almost indescribable, especially if the infidelity was seemingly out of nowhere. For many couples, such behavior can mean the end of the relationship. If this situation for you and your spouse, it is important to know how, if at all, cheating and infidelity can impact the outcome of your divorce.
Not Grounds for Divorce
Until December of 2015, adultery was considered grounds for divorce in Illinois. Thanks to recent updates to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), such is no longer the case. Beginning this year, all divorces are granted on the basis of irreconcilable differences. While infidelity can certainly cause irreconcilable differences between spouses, the biggest difference is that adulterous behavior constituted “fault” grounds, as a cheating spouse was considered to be “at fault” for the divorce.
Spousal Maintenance and Property Division
One of the primary reasons that the law was changed to eliminate fault grounds was that previous amendments to the law had already removed almost all incentive to prove fault in a divorce. The IMDMA specifically states that when awarding spousal maintenance and dividing property, the court must do so “without regard to marital misconduct.” Thus, by law, infidelity has very little effect on the court’s decision.
Pressures Outside of the Courtroom
The law, however, cannot do much to control the negotiations between the spouses prior to going before a judge. From this perspective, infidelity can play a much bigger role during informal divorce proceedings compared to those in court. If your spouse cheated, he or she may be much more willing to compromise or to offer additional property or alimony considerations. While infidelity may not legally be a factor in the courtroom, few cheating spouses would want their behavior even discussed during litigation. Therefore, your spouse may wish to settle your differences more quickly than might otherwise be the case, potentially allowing you to receive a larger share of the marital estate and other possible benefits.
In some situations, however, infidelity can harden your spouse’s resolve, making reaching an agreement even more difficult. Anger and bitterness can quickly get in the way, leading to much more challenging negotiations.
Explore Your Available Options
If your spouse has been unfaithful and you are considering a divorce, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. Our knowledgeable team will meet with you to discuss the options available to you under the law. Call 708-518-8200 to schedule a free consultation at any of the convenient locations of Kezy & Associates today.