Sunday, March 1, 2009

Can You Use Collaborative Law When There's Been Adultery?

Yes. And it's interesting to see how differently adultery is addressed in litigated divorces and in Collaborative Law divorces.


For the people who are just angry and want to fight for the sake of revenge or to punish their spouse, adultery becomes a convenient scapegoat to help blame everything on the other party. Even where there was no adultery, in some litigated cases, the spouse who thinks he or she was wronged still sometimes makes adultery allegations a central part of his/her case, despite a lack of proof. Unfortunately, we can't do anything about people operating contrary to facts, logic and common sense.

Sometimes, a party to a divorce becomes so consumed in punishing a spouse for marital transgressions that the divorce overwhelms the parties emotionally and financially. In one case involving an estate of about $200,000, the wife believed that her husband had a girlfriend. He denied it, but still offered 60-65% of the assets because he made a lot more than his wife did and he didn't want to fight. His wife refused and continued to fight. She fought for over three years, spent about $100,000 in attorney's fees, and she still ended up with about 60% of the assets.

There are cases where adultery undeniably has occurred, but that fact rarely makes a major impact on the divorce judge's decision, unless you happen to find yourself in front of one of the rare judges who puts an emphasis on it. The odds are against you making any difference in the outcome just because there has been adultery.

Collaborative Law

In a Collaborative case, the parties are focused on their goals and problem solving. In litigation, the focus is usually on what happened in the past, while Collaborative Law focuses on the future. Instead of rehashing past mistakes and bad behavior, Collaborators usually move on and try to find or create solutions. Many Collaborative cases have involved cases where adultery has occurred and both parties know about it. And those cases are almost always successfully resolved in the Collaborative process.

If a husband or wife is very angry and can't get over that to focus on his or her goals, then Collaborative may not be an appropriate option for that person. It does required some emotional maturity and getting past the anger stage of the breakup.

What can you do if you want to do a Collaborative divorce, but you are very angry?

  • Get some counseling for yourself to manage your anger and move forward emotionally.
  • Get counseling for you and your spouse. That can help both of you address common issues in a safe environment, prior to divorce negotiations.
  • Let some time pass. Everyone goes through several stages of grieving during a divorce, not always in the same order. Over time, perspectives and feelings change. At some point, you will be ready to work on the divorce without being consumed by anger and a desire for revenge.
  • Consult with a trained and experienced Collaborative lawyer who may be able to help you focus on goals that are more important than just retribution.

Don't be afraid to try Collaborative Law when there has been adultery or an affair in the marriage. There have been many successful agreements reached where the parties have been able to work together then and in the future.

1 comment:

Ericwipe287 said...

I think it will be nice if they will focus on future rather than past.

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