“My spouse has had several affairs; it’s one of the reasons we split up. Can I use this against him in the divorce proceedings?”
Under Illinois divorce law, and in a strict legal sense, you cannot use your husband’s affairs against him for a divorce settlement more favorable to you. This may seem unfair to you, because it was your husband’s affairs which caused all the trouble and eventually the divorce. Since he was at fault and ruined the marriage, he should pay. However, this is not the law.
The divorce laws divide the case into two parts. The first part is the grounds for divorce. Evidence of your husband’s affairs would be heard in this part of the case. If you have enough evidence to satisfy the judge, then the marriage would be dissolved based on adultery.
The case would then move on to the second part, which deals with financial and other issues. This part of the case is entirely separate from the first part. Here, the court will divide property and make financial decisions based on economics and other similar considerations. The grounds for divorce and the fault of a party are not considered in this part of the case. You don’t get any more because your husband is guilty of adultery.
Your husband’s affairs might, however, have some practical effect on the case. He might be more willing to agree to a good financial settlement with you to avoid the embarrassment of a trial exposing his affairs. His girlfriend might also pressure him to give you a favorable settlement, so that she does not become involved in the case. Also, your husband’s affairs might come up during custody and visitation issues. Exposing the children to the affair or the girlfriend might work against your husband when these issues are considered.
Jay A. Frank is a divorce and matrimonial practitioner in Chicago with over 35 years of experience. He has been selected as one of the top family-law attorneys in Illinois. He can be reached at (312) 828-9600. View his Divorce Magazine profile.