There are few emotions as strong as the feelings of betrayal that can result from your spouse’s infidelity. Regardless of whether he or she engaged in a long-term adulterous affair or got caught up in a one-night, heat-of-the-moment situation, your marriage is likely to be permanently affected. While marriage experts suggest that cheating is generally more of a symptom than the root of marital problems, an episode of unfaithfulness can certainly be the last straw for many couples, ultimately pushing the marriage over the edge toward a divorce. Marital infidelity, however, is not likely to play any role in the divorce process.
No At-Fault Divorce
For decades, you could file for divorce in Illinois solely on the grounds that your spouse cheated. Of course, this usually involved proving his or her behavior or getting him or her to acknowledge it; either way, divorce proceedings on such grounds were often emotionally-charged and could quickly turn very bitter.
Last year, the Illinois legislature made changes to the statutes that govern divorce in the state, which took effect in January of 2016. Going forward, a divorce will only be considered on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, and will not require the petitioner to prove anything about his or her spouse’s actions. Technically, a divorce based on irreconcilable differences is considered a “no-fault” divorce, with no recognition of either party’s role in the breakdown of the marriage. Cheating, of course, can create irreconcilable differences between the spouses, but it is no longer possible to cite infidelity specifically as the basis for divorce.
Property and Spousal Maintenance
As you move through the divorce process, you may believe that your spouse “owes” you something because he or she was unfaithful. If you have a prenuptial agreement or any other type of negotiated arrangement, you may be able to pursue some type of recompense. However, if it is left to the court to allocate marital property or to determine spousal maintenance awards, Illinois law expressly prohibits the court from taking the spouses’ behavior into account. The court has no statutory discretion to place a value on any sort of marital misconduct, so you will not receive additional financial or property consideration due to infidelity.
The law that addresses child support calculations also does not permit the consideration of cheating or other marital misconduct. Parenting matters, though, may be slightly different. When the court is responsible for allocating parental responsibilities—formerly called child custody—and determining parenting time or visitation rights, the best interest of the child is always the top priority. A spouse’s infidelity or behavior may be taken into account, but if, and only if, the parent’s actions are having a direct negative impact on the child, either physically, mentally, emotionally or morally. In such a case, the court will normally work to find a solution that mitigates the potential danger to the child, not necessarily to “punish” a cheating parent.
We Can Help
If your spouse’s cheating has you thinking about divorce, it is time to start getting the answers you need to whatever questions you may have. Contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. We will help you explore your options under the law and provide the guidance you need to seek a better future. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule your free initial consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., today.