One of the most common reasons that people cite for seeking divorce is infidelity on the part of their spouses. Adultery remains incredibly common, perhaps even more so with the internet making it easier than ever to communicate with or seek out an extramarital partner. Although the person cheating may try to cover up the indiscretion, many times their spouse will find out anyway.
If you've caught your spouse cheating and you're thinking about a divorce, you may find yourself wondering how infidelity will impact your divorce proceedings. Understanding Colorado law and the details of your situation will help you predict how much of an influence infidelity will have on your divorce.
Affairs usually do not impact asset division
In the average divorce related to an affair, the cheating will not have any bearing on how the courts handle asset division. After all, Colorado law is very clear that while the courts will consider a variety of factors when splitting up assets and debts in a divorce, marital misconduct is not one of those factors.
However, there are situations in which adultery could potentially impact asset division. The first is a situation in which the spouses signed a prenuptial agreement with a penalty for infidelity. Some prenuptial agreements may award one spouse a lump sum payment or a higher percentage of marital assets if the other spouse cheats. The courts will have to review the prenuptial agreement carefully to ensure it is valid and enforceable.
Sometimes, a cheating spouse spends marital assets or incurs debts while conducting an affair. Hotel rooms, restaurant dinners and gifts can quickly add up to thousands of dollars. The courts may consider any amount spent on an affair to be a dissipation of marital assets. That could mean that the person who had the affair ends up receiving fewer assets or is responsible for all debts incurred as a result of the affair.
Usually, cheating won't impact child custody
Regardless of how angry you are and how much an affair reflects on a spouse's (or lack thereof), the courts won't cut access to the children because a parent had an affair. Generally speaking, the best interests of the children in a divorce include maintaining relationships with both parents.
However, if the affair led to neglect (such as leaving young children alone and unsupervised while meeting a lover) or abuse (by the parent or his or her partner), that could have a bearing on child custody proceedings. Similarly, if your ex's new partner has a history of child abuse, alcoholism or drug addiction, that could impact how the courts determine custody or visitation. In the vast majority of divorces involving adultery, however, cheating alone will not impact child custody outcomes.