Surveys have shown that 10 to 15 percent of married women admit to cheating on their spouses, while men double that statistic, with 20 to 25 percent of married men admitting to cheating on their partners. How does infidelity affect divorce? After all, cheating is something that most married couples never get over and is one of the leading causes of divorce.
What Adultery Does Not Affect During Divorce
It is easier to first list the aspects of divorce that are not affected by adultery because adultery has no effect on most of the things that people typically assume that it does. For instance, adultery does not sway a court one way or the other when it comes to child custody unless it can be proven that the cheating spouse’s affair somehow put the child at physical or emotional harm, which is extremely rare. Similarly, adultery has no effect on child support or the parenting plan. Asset distribution almost always remains the same whether marriage end because of infidelity or some other unrelated reason. It may seem like a cheating spouse put less effort into the marriage or is setting a horrible example for his or her children, and therefore is less equipped to be a parent, but the courts generally treat a cheating spouse better than a spouse with a gambling addiction, for example. Only when the infidelity is proven to have directly affected the child in a negative way, such as exposing the child to a prostitute, will a court use infidelity to make a custody decision. The same goes for asset division. However, there is one exception to the later.
Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that property is divided “fairly.” Under 750 ILCS 5/503, the court “shall divide the marital property without regard to marital misconduct in just proportions considering all relevant factors.” As such, adultery does not affect property distribution. However, the court does recognize the misuse of marital assets, called the “dissipation” of marital assets. One type of misuse is spending marital assets on another sexual partner. For example, the court may choose to reduce the property distributed to the husband if it can be proven that he spent money on hotel rooms, jewelry, and dinners for his mistress....