Will your spouse's affair help you during your upcoming divorce?

A spouse who conducts an extramarital affair can do permanent damage to the very foundation of trust upon which a marriage is built. It is often impossible for couples to recover from the destruction that results from the discovery of adultery.

Although couples may attempt to forgive and forget, the long-term damage may prove to be too difficult to overcome. If you now realize that you are on your way to divorce thanks to your spouse's philandering ways, you have likely started to wonder how an affair will affect your divorce. Familiarizing yourself with Minnesota's family laws can help you understand.

Adultery usually doesn't affect asset division

Asset division is the process that the courts use to divide your possessions up when you divorce. In general, the Minnesota family courts want to create a solution that is fair and equitable to both parties.

Equitable is a term that is open for interpretation, and the courts will consider your marriage circumstances, such as your health, the length of your marriage, your standard of living and other factors.

However, the law specifically prohibits them from considering marital misconduct, including adultery. More simply put, unless you have a binding prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that assigns penalties for infidelity, an affair will not have a direct impact on how the courts split up your assets.

Adultery usually won't affect custody determinations either

An affair, especially a protracted affair, can create very strong emotions. You may feel furious at the idea that the person your spouse cheated with will now sometimes get to see your children.

Unfortunately, that is likely what will happen if your ex continues the relationship during and after the divorce. The courts will not reduce or eliminate someone's visitation or custody time with their children just because they have a relationship with someone other than their former spouse. Instead, the courts want to focus on what will best serve the children, which usually involves accepting the circumstances as they are and adjusting to them.

The only exception to this rule is if you have reason to believe that this other person poses a risk to your children. If they have a criminal history that involves violence, particularly against children, that is something you should inform the courts of. Otherwise, the affair will have very little impact overall on the divorce proceedings.

It is totally normal to have strong emotions about an affair that leads to the end of your marriage. Don't let your feelings get in the way of following through with an intelligent divorce strategy. Sitting down with a Minnesota family law attorney can help you make sure your anger about the affair does not take away from your focus on a successful divorce strategy.

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