Don’t Pull a Carrie Underwood: Why a Cheating Spouse Doesn’t Give you License to Lash Out

By Alisse C. Camazine and Allison Schreiber Lee

Carrie Underwood sings about a cheating boyfriend: “I dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive. Carved my name into his leather seats. I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights, slashed a hole in all four tires. Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats….” And while many can relate to Carrie’s sentiment–feeling wronged and wanting to take revenge, blinded by anger and (most likely) tears–in family court, taking your emotions out in unproductive ways can cost you dearly.

As wrong as it feels to have a spouse cheat, the court isn’t required to take that conduct into account, and even if the court takes a dim view of your soon-to-be ex’s bad behavior, the impact is likely not nearly what you think it should be. Judges frequently search for balance: while one party may be unfaithful, if the other destroys property, the “wronged” spouse may not be the one you think it should be. The courts often look at conduct in terms of finances: Did someone spend money on a lover? Did someone destroy an asset? The values attached to those kinds of misconduct may be included to try to quantify how “wronged” someone has been.

Yes, the court cares about someone squandering money, but the court also cares who acts out in front of the children. How you react to your spouse’s wrong-doing is just as important as your spouse’s actions. A spouse’s choice to end a marriage with an affair is unfortunate. The better choice might certainly have been to say, “I want a divorce,” before he or she wandered off, but their doing so doesn’t give you license to act destructively. Your own misconduct may come back to harm you in unexpected ways.

To discuss infidelity or other family law issues, contact the family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal – we can help.

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