By: Alan E. Freed
You have serious concerns over the state of your marriage. Your spouse has lost interest or is simply not around as much as you’d like. Communication seems to have broken down. You suspect your once loving partner may have strayed from “I do” to “I might.” Then, you discover a suspicious text message, a late night phone call taken in private, a seemingly incriminating photo saved to the computer.
You go to see a divorce lawyer and pour your heart out, demanding justice for your spouse’s cruel infidelity. Your lawyer tells you that there are ways of delving further into these issues. You can hire an expert to evaluate the computer. You can engage a private investigator to follow your spouse and try to catch them in the act. You’re ready to pounce, catch that no-good *$&#%!, and teach them a lesson.
Not so fast. You need to make a few critical considerations before jumping with both feet into the fires of high conflict litigation:
- What are your ultimate goals?
- If you have no children, the only possible issues in the divorce are division of property and debt and, possibly, spousal support (maintenance or alimony). While conduct during the marriage is a factor a court must consider in dividing property or awarding maintenance, most judges will not veer terribly far from a 50/50 division unless the conduct has a significant impact on the marriage, and the impact is usually measured in dollars. The mere fact of being unfaithful probably will not move the needle far from 50/50. Unless your marital estate is quite large, you need to consider whether a few percentage points is worth the money and effort involved.
- If you have children, the judge will be interested in whether the conduct by your spouse will affect their ability to care for the children. Unless you can demonstrate that the affair jeopardizes the children’s well-being (e.g., your spouse is leaving the children unattended or is seriously neglecting their needs), a judge will probably not let the adulterous conduct have much effect on the parenting schedule.
- How much are you willing to spend? Investigations are expensive. Private investigators spend hours sitting in their cars outside of people’s homes and places of business, waiting for them to show themselves. You will be paying for those hours, as well as for time spent looking into financial and other records to find out the extent of the bad conduct. Computer analyses can run up thousands of dollars of costs. You need to measure this cost against your goals. Even if you can achieve your goal, will it be worth it?
- Are you willing to live with the consequences? If you and your spouse have children, you can look forward to years of co-parenting, which can be made significantly more challenging when your former spouse is angry at you.
Going through a divorce means making difficult and potentially life-altering decisions that will affect you, your former spouse, and your children. The family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal will help you take all of the consequences into account and assist you in making the best decision for your family.