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.

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

  1. 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. 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.”

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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?

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