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Spouse's affair may not factor into property division

When a Massachusetts spouse has been wronged, the first impulse is often an emotional response aimed at extracting revenge. When we are hurt, embarrassed or surprised by the infidelity of a husband or wife, we often react in a manner that is not rational or in line with our long-term interests. We want the choices of the adulterer to play a role in the property division process. Unfortunately, however, adultery often plays little to no role in the Massachusetts divorce process.

Furthermore, attempting to make infidelity into a central issue within a divorce can actually lead to negative consequences for the wronged spouse. The most common way for this to occur involves accruing hefty legal fees for the time and effort spent on proving that adultery made a significant impact on the marriage. This may sound odd, considering that cheating is often the central reason for a divorce. However, consider the following scenarios.

If a spouse feels certain that their partner spent a considerable amount of marital assets on funding the affair, it is possible to bring those allegations into play within the divorce process. However, proving this assertion requires a great deal of research and documentation. At the end of a lengthy and expensive process of discovery, it is entirely possible to gain an award that does not even cover the cost of proving that dissipation of assets took place.

Another issue involves allegations of abuse. Unless there is clear and convincing evidence that abuse took place, it can be very difficult to demonstrate to a court that a spouse was abusive during the marriage. This can be especially true in situations in which the majority of the abuse was emotional or psychological. Even in cases in which a therapist can testify that a spouse was emotionally abused, there is no guarantee that a judge will use that information in making a determination concerning the division of property.

The bottom line is often one that a wronged spouse does not want to hear. In many cases, cheating simply does not factor into the divorce process, and adultery will not impact the bottom line when it comes to matters of property division. For spouse who are going through a divorce in which cheating was an issue, it is important to maintain focus on reaching the most desirable settlement possible, and not seeking revenge or retribution through the Massachusetts divorce process.

Source: Huffington Post, "Why An Affair May Not Matter In Your Divorce," Susan Galamba, April 29, 2013

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