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Will your spouse's cheating have an impact on your divorce?

An affair can feel like the worst possible betrayal your spouse could commit against you. When you discover that your spouse has been unfaithful, a profoundly overwhelming emotional response is typical. You may experience sorrow, shame or deep pain. Anger is also a common response.

The emotions that an affair generates can lead otherwise kind and decent people to lash out at their spouse and take actions that would typically not be characteristic of their personality. Adultery and affairs are among the leading causes of divorces in Minnesota. It is likely that if you choose to file a divorce because your spouse was unfaithful that you would like to see the courts penalize them in some way. Unfortunately, that is not how the laws in Minnesota work.

Infidelity rarely changes how the courts divide your assets

Many people wrongly assume that there is a legal penalty associated with infidelity that results in a divorce. People have seen movies or stories where one spouse gets the majority of the marital estate just because the other spouse cheated. Unless you have an ironclad prenuptial agreement that specifically outlines financial penalties for a spouse engaging in an extramarital affair, the courts aren't likely to even consider the issue.

The asset division laws in Minnesota specifically state that the judge presiding over your case cannot consider marital misconduct, such as adultery, when deciding who gets what. Nothing you can say and no evidence you present will change that fact.

However, if your ex spent a large amount of money or marital resources on their affair, you may be able to provide evidence of that wasteful financial spending to the courts. They may adjust the asset division outcome to reflect those assets wasted by your spouse.

Infidelity likely won't impact child custody either

If there's anything worse than needing to go through a divorce with children, it's needing to see your cheating ex at every single custody exchange. You might want to punish your ex for destroying your faith in them and the marriage by pushing for full custody, but the Minnesota family courts are unlikely to award it to you unless your ex truly doesn't seek their fair share of custody.

Otherwise, the courts will try to do what is in the best interest of the children, which usually means sharing parental responsibilities and parenting time between both parents. You may even find yourself sharing some of that parental responsibility with the person with whom your spouse cheated on you.

It's common for people to want to push for a no-contact rule with the other person, but the courts likely won't agree to that either. Unless that individual has had their children removed from their custody or has a criminal record that includes violent offenses or crimes against children, the courts likely won't bar that individual from having a role in the lives of your children.

If you find yourself wishing for revenge against your ex or for there to be punishment related to the affair, going to a support group or attending counseling can help you process those emotions. Letting go of all of that hurt and pain now means that once the divorce is over, you can move on to a happy relationship with someone who will give you the respect you deserve.

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