Can You Get a Better Divorce Settlement If Your Spouse Cheated?

Money ShockEven though you know that cheating is surprisingly common in marriage (just grab the latest People Magazine if you need a reminder), you never think that it will happen to you…until it does. According to TruthAboutDeception.com, estimates peg infidelity rates in the United States at between 30% – 60%.  It may be nice to know that you aren’t alone, but that doesn’t help soothe your feelings of betrayal, heartbreak, and insecurity.

While many couples decide to try to save their marriage after infidelity is discovered, cheating is also one of the top reasons couples list for getting divorced. If you are done with your cheating spouse, you might wonder if his philandering ways can be used against him in your divorce settlement. Let’s take a look at this question.

Infidelity Won’t Get You More Money in the Courts

Every state in the United States offers some form of a “no-fault divorce,” which allows you to cite a version of “irreconcilable differences,” as your reason for divorce. As such, your spouse cannot be penalized by a judge for cheating in most circumstances. Though a judge may feel bad for you, that doesn’t mean you’ll get the house and all the cars and your husband’s investment portfolio while you’re at it.

There are some rare circumstances where your husband’s cheating ways can affect your divorce settlement in court. For example, if your husband paid $100,000 to put his mistress up in a luxury condo for a year, you could argue that you are entitled to some of that money (especially if you live in a Community Property State).

Additionally, if you can prove that your husband was an absentee or neglectful parent because he was too busy pursuing his new love interest, or if you can show that his new fling represents a danger to your children, you may be able to get majority or full custody of your children.

Cheating May Provide Leverage in Divorce Negotiation

Though the court can’t do much to punish your husband for cheating, you may be able to use this as leverage if you negotiate a settlement out of court. If your husband feels guilty about cheating, or if he wants to get out of the marriage so that he can wed his mistress, he may be more willing to compromise during your negotiations or mediation. This all depends on the individual circumstances of each couple. You can play the injured party all you want, but if your husband isn’t contrite, then you won’t see much benefit.

The Wording in a Pre-Nup

Your last, best chance to gain the upper hand as a result of your husband’s cheating is if you have a prenuptial agreement with certain clauses that punish cheaters. Some pre-nups will include a clause stating that a cheating spouse is entitled to less in a settlement or nothing if the cheating can be proven. This clause is usually placed in the pre-nup to protect a wealthy spouse, especially if the other spouse comes into the marriage without a lot of assets. In this day and age, however, it’s not uncommon for the woman to out-earn her husband. If your pre-nup has this type of clause, then apply it for all that it’s worth!

Don’t Drain Your Finances to Fight a Cheating Spouse

You may be feeling extremely betrayed right now, confused, or just downright angry. That’s understandable, but in matters of divorce, trying to “stick it” to your cheating husband may end up backfiring. Although you may relish the idea of making his life miserable by fighting for every penny in divorce court, litigating your divorce will be extremely time-consuming and expensive. You’ll end up paying thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars more in attorney fees if you litigate everything instead of trying to mediate what you can. As hard as it is, you’ll be doing yourself a huge financial favor by trying to work with your spouse to come to an agreeable settlement with as little court time as possible.

Your spouse’s cheating caught you off guard. Don’t be surprised again! Learn more about what to expect during your divorce by reading our divorce article archive. We also invite you to attend a Second Saturday Workshop, where you can hear from divorce attorneys, financial advisors, and other professionals that assist people throughout the divorce process. Find a Second Saturday Divorce Workshop near you.

74 thoughts on “Can You Get a Better Divorce Settlement If Your Spouse Cheated?”

  1. My wife cheated on me and confessed it to me after we are separated for two years. I told her there is no marriage, I dont want the marriage again although she wants to work the marriage. I told her to find a lawyer to start the divorce process because I’m not willing pay because she committed an adultery.

    1. Wait, what? Your wife doesn’t want a divorce, but you think she’s the one who should hire an attorney and do all the work to get one? Why should she do that? If you want the divorce, then you should go get the attorney and do what’s needed — this isn’t like, “Hey, honey, we’re out of beer, drop by the store and get me some.”

  2. I suspect my wife is cheating. She’s very distant. I found evidence on her phone, that she’s talking to multiple people. Every night of the week, she’s always at the casino, or over some friend’s house, having drinks. I’ve heard it all, from her moving into another house, starting arguments, telling me, “she doesn’t want to be with me,” not coming into the house until 3 to 6 am, not wanting to be around me… and still every now and then wants to mate. She is bitter cold towards me. Treats me very unfairly. I get no suggestive input. She claims she wants a divorce, but won’t go and get any paperwork or even make an attempt to notify anyone. My soul is crushed, because it goes against everything I believe in, but I cannot endure. She even suggested, “open marriage.” Told me, she only married me because of our son…
    There is so much involved, I can’t even express HALF. My feelings are crushed so bad, I don’t even know if I could feel ANYTHING anymore. I’m thinking I should pursue the process of a divorce. Whenever I mention to her, “Go and get the paperwork, or get a lawyer, ” she gets quiet. I know she doesn’t love me. But it’s okay. I am able to accept that. But I will not be used as a mule and dragged along. I need some helpful advice.

    1. Whether she is cheating or not is beside the point. The point is, you don’t have a marriage by most standards. So what do you want to do about it? It’s time to decide and take decisive action. If you want to stay married at any cost, then you must find a way to find peace, which likely begins by seeking counseling. If you want to have a marriage that works, then you will need to have open and frank conversations with her (conversations, not arguments) to express your feelings and what you would like your marriage to be and see if she is willing to work on this together, probably with the help of a counselor. If you are fed up and want to end the marriage, then you should take steps in that direction. I don’t have to tell you that sitting on the fence is painful, and only you can get off the fence and do something.

  3. My husband cheated on me with another man. After I left 2 months later I found out I was pregnant. I lost all my possessions when moving us to another state cause he didn’t file his military papers correctly so all my stuff is gone. What can I do In a divorce for pain suffering and possession lost?

    1. I don’t know the answer to your questions because I don’t know the laws in your state. If he filed his military papers wrong because he didn’t know any better, that may be different than if he filed them wrong on purpose to spite you. As for what happened with your possessions, probably the same type of issue. if you lost your possessions because he took them from you, that is different than if they were lost in transit and they were uninsured for loss. And as for reimbursement for pain and suffering, I don’t know if any credence is given to that by your state. The laws of most states these days are no fault.

  4. Paul Vermeulen

    My wife of 30 years cheated on me. She left me said she was tired of all the crap. I didn’t have any idea what she meant. She came back packed a suit case then left again. At one point when she came back the next day I needed to go to the store,Smith’s. We ran into my now ex buddy. I over heard her say to him don’t tell me what they did. From that statement I know she cheated on me. I haven’t been able to touch her since, it’s now been 3 years and I want her out. I will never trust her or love her ever again. It destroyed me. I don’t ever know if the hurt will stop. I not a cheater.

    1. If you want to separate, then you need to have a conversation with her about how that will work. If you and she cannot work it out, then you will need to ask an attorney what legal steps you can take.

  5. Hi my husband cheated on me with 2 other girls. He is married to me and he is engaged with another girl and he is living here in liv in with another girl. What should I do and he is asking for divorce now. I’m emotionally attached with him but I don’t want him back. Really need suggestions……

  6. Pingback: Ways a Career Change Can Affect Your Divorce Proceedings - Project Diaspora

  7. I found out my husband was cheating on me while I was sick for an entire year with his coworker. Can I sue the company they work for. Since he been working there he started cheating. 6months later I found out he is still with his mistress. He is not asking a divorce. We constantly get into fights and I want to know what are my options we own a house, dog and I am not working

    1. Sure, I guess if people can sue Starbucks when they spill hot coffee into their laps, since Starbucks sold them the coffee, you can probably find some attorney somewhere who will take on suing your husband’s employer. You’ll probably lose, but what the hey, it’s better than blaming yourself or your husband for your troubled marriage, right? But before you do, take a look at your life and figure out what you want. If you want to put the marriage back together, talk to your husband about going to counseling together to work on that. If he won’t do that, then you have to decide whether to go or stay. But either way, talk to an attorney about what steps you need to protect yourself and get what you need in the meantime. From your husband, not from lawsuit proceeds from random companies.

  8. My husband left the day after Christmas and has not returned. Found out he was cheating and has now got a new place with this woman. Since then he has a had a drug overdose and has not bothered to see the children at all. He keeps telling me that he’s not leaving me that he needs time but this is not ok. The lies the cheating and abandonment. I don’t have a job or vehicle so he has really caused hectic I’m me and our children’s life. What can I do

    1. Assuming that he has a job or other resources available to him, you can ask him for what you and the children need to live your lives. If he refuses, you will need to open a court case and file a petition for child support and alimony.

  9. I have been the sole provider and the only one who earns a stable income and have a retirement fund. We have been married three years yet his only been in the marriage for over 15months. Is he entitled to half my retirement fund when he left a long time ago.?? There are four children 9,3,1 and a new born who is the beneficiary on my retirement plan. Please help

      1. My wife cheated on me 3 years ago. Last year on December she wanted a paternity test done for our daughter. The result came back that im not the father. Now she want to go to court unless i make an agreement with her. We have to other boys. What are my options

  10. I am married for 3 & a half yerars and have a seven month old baby.I found out that my husband was cheating on me when i was 8 months pregnant.At that time he apologised and i forgave him but i found out again that hes is cheating on me.When confronted he lies and denies.He has visited India every week seek new year without my knowledge and i have his passport photos and call recordings.We dont talk and live in separate rooms since march.And he is still cheating and my mother in law is aware and aware of all this still supporting & defending her son.I am prepared mentally for filing a divorce.I wanted to ask if i can claim child support , alimony and sole custody of my baby.

    1. Of course you will get child support. You will also get custody of your child, though it is likely that it will be split in some way with the baby’s father, assuming he wants to spend time with his child. And your state may provide for alimony as well.

  11. My wife of 28 years has been cheating on me. She is an alcoholic. Lost both her parents recently. Crashed her car four times in three years. Twice totaled. She has woven an intricate and complex web of lies which finally collapsed after I called a number on her phone bill which was very active. He answered. I asked if he was screwing my wife. My wife was with him at the time and he passed the phone off to her immediately. I got her to admit to love but no sex. She is lying. Looking back on it all she likely had multiple affairs. I love her but have to man up and let her go find what she is looking for. I was an amazing fit husband and dad and feel like I never really knew her. All the signs were there. Going to friends homes but not really there. Spending night out but not taking a bag. I am devastated.

  12. My wife is cheating on me have pitchers and texts and messenger how does it help me married 29 1/2 years she payed for hotels lingerie and food what can I do

  13. I have been married for 17 years. I know this post mostly gives advise for women….but I thought I give u my thiughts…for your opinion.. Most of our lives we have been active reservist in the Army. While 7 years ago I confessed to seeking to end our marriage by moving our and continue talks with another women….I did not. We have struggled most of our marriage with finances…but have moved to the greener sides over the past couple years. Unfortunately, right before we closed on a new built house this year… she decides to want to committee the rest of her life to a male friend in prison. He as written her many time and face timed her often…before she got her medical discharge in January. She could not close out the house without borrowing $4000 from me and my TSP. Despite my better thoughts I gave her the money, but have continuesly watch her FaceTime this inmate, whom it has been illegal for him to have a cell phone in jail. Phone sex is or is not considered cheating on your spouse. Am I better served to hire a divorce attorney whom not only will seek a settlement for my share of this house, while suing the inmate for playing a role in the final nail of our marriage. I have not left our house yet….but am awaiting orders to move our of state effective 1 July.

    1. If you want to end your marriage, then file for divorce. If you don’t, then do what needs to be done to get your marriage back on track. If you are asking us what that would be, I have no idea, but you might have some. It probably begins with straight-forward communication. Suing the inmate is probably not a good option, on a variety of levels. The issues to be solved are between you and her.

  14. So I have a situation that I’m not to sure about what to do.
    My friend (at that stage) was newly married, however his wife left him for his best friend, where she ran away to him. After a week or so she came back and said she is willing to work on their marriage, he agreed to it as she is his wife and the mother of his 2 children. It wasn’t even a week after and she left again to go to her boyfriend again.
    Shortly there after the friend and I got involved with each other, as we were both going through a similar situation regarding our relationships and we just got each other.
    She is unfortunately mentally not stable as the doctors indicated on documentation.

    How can his and my relationship affect the marriage annulment/ divorce?
    Will our relationship affect the custody over their children?
    Will it make any difference that she was the one that left her husband for her boyfriend?

    Please if there is any advise that can help me.

  15. what about a cheating partner (not married or co-residing) – what legal action can be taken to recover items you stored at her residence while you were living in an apartment going through divorce? She abruptly ended the relationship but didn’t tell me – she went dark (no communication) won’t see me. She has denied (me) access to items I want back and has since legally denied me access. Relationship: intimate more than 7 years.

  16. I found out my husband of nearly 40 years was cheating a couple of months ago. I have been devastated ever since. He still lives here and sleeps in the same bed as I do. He states he can’t have sex with her, but he does with me. Her family was also broken up by this and he says that he feels he is now responsible for her, and wishes he wasn’t. I figure she made her own decisions and is responsible for her own self. She has to have daddy issues as she is half his age. We have a large inheritance that is currently tied up in the courts, but if we win, it will pay off all our debts and leave a little something for each of us to split. My deal is he will get a paid off business that is mobile and he can/does make a lot of money from, yet he still wants half my 401k. We live in MO. How do you think the courts will look at this?

    1. The laws of each state are different, so you will have to find out how the assets are split in your state. Many states are no-fault and if your state is, then who he had sex with and whether she has daddy issues will be completely irrelevant.

  17. I live in NJ and I just found out my husband has cheated and has a 3 month old baby. We both want a divorce but we both want the house. He makes more money then me. Will I be able to get the house since he went off and started a new family.

  18. This article is written with men as the villain. My wife is currently cheating. It has been going on for about a year. I caught her on an app called Hangouts. Then on Facebook Messenger with the same guy. Nude pics on her phone. Selfies of her blowing kisses to someone. Then the icing on the cake, I found her secret phone. I had known aboit it for two months before finding it. She of course denied everything but 2 days after I you d the phone, I was awarded a TRO for domestic violence. The court order and the alligations were all false, all so bad that even her family came to MY defense because they knew what was written was not true. I supposedly did something on thanksgiving day to her but I was at work on thanksgiving so there was no way I could have done it. There seems to be a lot of this from what I have learned and the family/criminal courts are skewed towards the woman. This has ruined my career, finances, my family, every aspect of my life because my wife is a cheater.

    1. I’m very sorry for what happened to you. Please know that we do not intend to cast men as villains, and I hope you do not regard all women as villains. Relationships are hard, and most people are doing what they can to make them work.

  19. My wife cheated on me multiple times, I was unaware of the fact but I did suspect that she was doing something, on the 17th of September 2019 I packed up and left my wife behind so we could file for a divorce, she went behind my back and filed for child custody and LIED saying I battered her, I proved to the court during the hearing that she was a liar and I have never battered her in any way. A few nights ago I found the necessary proof I needed, since we had a joint email address with google I was able to obtain a timeline of events that goes back as far as a year, I then learned that on the 15th of september my wife checked into a hotel at 10pm and checked out at 1am, at the time i was working postmates, i remember calling her after i completed my last order, which was around 1am to let her know i was on my way home. Timeline also provided me with sexually explicit pictures that she had been taken on her phone, not one time during the 7 years we were married was i ever allowed to take pictures and she would say “No pictures No Proof”. Lastly on November 17th timeline showed me that she had checked into yet another hotel from the hours on 12 and 3am. After our seperation my wife was awarded full custody of our daughter because I was unaware that the restraining order prevented me from having any contact with my daughter and I tried to call to speak with her, once I was aware of the details of the restraining order I made no further contact until after court. My wife took every penny I had and left me to be broke and homeless. I believe in a God that supports the good, and since my seperation I have obtained employment driving city buses, and once I actually begin work I will be able to afford a home for me and my daughter, any advice before I proceed with the divorce?

  20. I cant stand how almost every article I read on this issue of Infidelity always tells the story in the tense that THE HUSBAND CHEATED AND IS THE BAD GUY. ITS BULLSHIT.
    Just like when you split up the wife automatically leaves with the kids and pets and most of the belongings– WHY IS THIS SOO ABSOLUTE ALL THE TIME.
    IVE BEEN CHEATED ON AND CRUSHED AND IM LOOSING EVERYTHING AUTOMARICALLY.
    SOCIETY SUCKS

  21. As the Husband who has been cheated on by the wife, do I have any rights? From everything I read, being Active Duty Military, it looks like I lose 1/2 ($1,200) of my retirement, have to pay into the Spouse Benefit Program ($225) (basically when I die she gets annuity until she passes) and I have no say on to what else the court want to issue. I am glad I completed 20 years in the military to retire with $1000 a month vs the $2400 I would have before taxes. I am completely lost for words since she was caught in the act, and holds the stuff above over my head.

  22. I found out my husband was cheating when he became very abusive to me verbal and physical. I have some pictures of the bruses and he also still denies it after my daughter caught him in the house having sex with this female while I was at my job. I got suspended from my job for 30 days for leaving in a rush when my daughter called me because I wasn’t thinking to clock out or tell anyone. He still denies it today until he starts drinking then I can hear him whispering in the basement to someone when he thanks I’m sleep. Do you think I’ll get alimony and help paying for my Bill’s if I divorce him . He always say I wont get anything.

  23. I’ve been married for 23 1/2 years and during more than half of our marriage my husband has barely worked or provided for our family. (We have two children). I worked full time, the entire time up until 11/2016 when I became ill & was approved in 2018 for social security disability. When I could no longer work & I did not have income coming in for first time, I began to cash in my 401k retirement funds which was a mistake since the taxes were high & now I have no savings left. In addition to my husbands lack of contributing any money to our household, for at least 10 years I have been catching him sexting & emailing other women on his phone. Even our kids who are now 18 & 20 have known for years that he was doing suspicious things on his phone. Recently while paying our cell phone bill, I noticed many calls incoming & outgoing to the same number. So I was able to reverse phone number search, I found HER name & address and did something unlike me & I drove to her house in my son’s car which is 1 1/2 hrs from mine & yes, there was our car in her driveway. I took lots of pictures & left a small note on windshield. Question: I want a divorce, he said “ok” he’s not happy or denying the affair. What are my chances of keeping the house? Does it matter that I’ve paid so much more over the years on the mortgage and for everything else? Thank you in Florida.

  24. I’ve been married for 28 years and found out three months ago that my husband was having an affair for the past 4 to 5 years! He was living a double life unbeknownst to me. He was using marital assets to support the extramarital relationship he paid rent with her they live together on and off for four years he would tell me that he didn’t have money to give me and my son for food but yet we still paying money To help support her! Will that help me in a divorce settlement knowing that he used our money to support his mistress? Thank you

  25. I have a question regarding the marital home. My husband has been having an affair for 6 months now, I found out about it 2 months ago and decided to work on our marriage, at that time he agreed. We went to Counseling, see a Pastor and visited the Marriage Builder site suggested by our Therapist. Two weeks ago I discovered that not only had my husband been lying to me for the past 2 months, he brought his mistress into our home. Not once, but now twice! We live in the State of CT. Do I have any rights to change the locks to our marital home? We have two boys 8 and 3. Thanks for your help.

  26. I am curious about the definition of marital assets. My spouse and I have lived in two separate homes for three years (he bought his during our marriage and I rent my home). We shared the same bed during those three years. My question is everything we accumulated during those years of maintaining separate homes considered marital assets? We never officially separated.

    Thanks

    1. Each state has different laws, so this is a great question to ask an attorney familiar with the laws of your state. Consider attending a Second Saturday divorce workshop near you to find out more about how marital property works.

  27. My husband having an affair over a year. We have 3 kids together, the age range is 21 to 11 years old. We have 2 houses together. I live in Ohio and he live in New York, we have been living apart for 8 years. He come here every 2 to 3 weeks. I work full time job. My question is If we are divorce, can I get all the property because he was cheating? The women (mitress), she is an illegal immigrant, is it possible get her to deport? Thank you

    1. Good grief, Wendy… you’ve been living apart for 8 years and you want to get this poor woman deported because she’s been in a relationship with your pseudo-husband for over a year?!

      Your problem should be simply with your husband, not with this woman. Since he’s only been with her for over a year, she certainly isn’t why you’ve been apart for 8 years.

      Get a divorce, get what you can get, and move on, but you aren’t going to clean him out because he’s been “having an affair.”

      1. I recently discovered my spouse has cheated on me. I forgave and we have had sex together since then. Can I still file for divorce on adultery

      2. Doug. Wendy had more than one question. She was asking about her houses too. She works full time and raises the children single-handedly while this Bozo is out of state with another woman.

  28. Do I have any rights to ask husband to give me money for bills n food? He works for government. Will they be able to help me?

      1. Thats my problem to hes not doing it voluntarily hes really acting like he dont have to and i just recently heard from his bestfriend that hes been giving some other lady money everymonth and he dont for me he find ways so he dont have to leave me any money what do i do

        1. In most states he has a duty to support you if you need it and he has income, and you may need to file for divorce or legal separation and go to court to request a support order if he is unwilling to fulfill his obligation voluntarily.

    1. My husband asked me stop divorce and try he told me he still loves me. I believed him and moved back and have been trying. Now he abruptly stoped being intimate belittles me verbally abuses and I suspect he is cheating. What can I do. He knows I already paid for the first round. He says he is over with marriage but refuses to file and I have caught and heard him speaking about this other woman. Stating he was with her ten years ago and is coming back to state. He lies and he is alcoholic. What are my options. Can I ask the court as to why he ask to try and now find out he has another. It’s almost like I was in the side Incase she didn’t play out.

      1. You can’t ask the court why he doesn’t want to work on the marriage – the court would have no knowledge and even less interest in the subject. You need to decide whether you want to let things go as they are now, ask him to go to counseling with you, or do something to make changes (move out, ask him to move out, file for divorce or separation, etc.). There is no right answer, and you can’t ask the court to decide for you. The decision is yours.

      2. It sounds like your premeditative, disingenuous spouse asked you to stay in the marriage while quietly planning to keep the GF, because he didn’t want to pay your alimony or allow you to start over. Chronic cheaters have no conscience. If he can keep you from divorcing him, he manages to keep from paying you alimony, simultaneously cheating you out of any chance of breaking free from his control and emotional abuse. Please see it for the PATTERN it already is, quietly get your ducks in line, and know that you are worth so much more than the way this bully is treating you. It is not your fault for forgiving and believing in him again, but too much of this kind of bait-and-switch can be devastating. (Google “trauma bonding” and move on while you still can). Sending Prayers and best wishes all the way around.

    2. I am facing issues in my marriage. I have two kids, and married for 6 yrs. First two yrs were okay. When we shifted our room near to his work, the things got changed. He started liking young girls. He dont allow me to check his phone or bank balance. Many times he abused me and hit me. He had an affair with his assistant i made her leave the job and disconnected with my husband. Soon, i found that he is chatting with young girls, even one was ready for having affair. Now i dont like him. Because of kids i am still in this marriage. But i am done. Pls suggest me what to do.

      1. You will need to decide if you want to let things continue this way, or if you want to separate. If you want to separate and you need financial support, if he won’t pay your expenses voluntarily you will need to file for divorce and request support through the courts.

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