Infidelity is one of the most common reasons why couples divorce. And often, people assume that if they are the innocent spouse, they are in a position to get a more favorable settlement.
However, this can be a costly misassumption. If infidelity is a factor in your divorce, you should know how and if that will affect the outcome.
What the law says
In Colorado, you do not need to cite fault when divorcing, as it is a “no-fault” state. Even if you are divorcing because of infidelity, you do not need to state it or prove it to file for divorce.
When courts hear cases involving property division, child custody or petitions for spousal support, marital misconduct, including infidelity, is generally not going to be a factor affecting the court’s decisions. That said, there are exceptions and special circumstances.
Exceptions and special circumstances
If an unfaithful spouse drained joint accounts or hid money through extramarital relationships – e.g., buying gifts or paying for travel expenses – the courts could take that into account when considering how to divide property and whether to award spousal support.
And while the courts may not consider marital misconduct when making decisions, parties may address it if they are negotiating resolutions outside of court.
For instance, if parties are mediating their divorce, emotions like anger or guilt can influence the agreements divorcing spouses reach. A party who feels betrayed and embarrassed may want more property; a party who cheated and feels ashamed may be more amenable to paying spousal support.
Understand, though, that the courts must approve all agreements.
One other exception could be if parties have a prenuptial agreement that addresses infidelity. As an example, some parties have clauses that say an unfaithful spouse gives up his or her option to seek alimony. If these agreements are valid, then proving infidelity could affect divorce-related matters.
The impact that infidelity has – or rather, doesn’t have – on a divorce can be surprising. Therefore, you should be careful not to make any assumptions or agree to anything without first getting information on your legal options and remedies.