Since 1990, the rate of married women who report they’ve been cheating on their spouses has increased by 40%, while the rate among men has remained the same. What is the impact of adultery and divorce?
The CNN Report
According to an article in CNN, more women than ever are cheating. What exactly is happening inside marriages to account for the closing gap between men and women and adultery?
According to the article, from a distance, the couples seemed happy enough, or at least content to be doing the family thing. They had cute kids, mortgages, busy social lives, matching sets of dishes.
On the surface, their husbands were reasonable, the marriages modern and equitable. If these women friends were angry unfulfilled or resentful, they didn’t show it.
Then one day, one of them confided in me she’d been having two overlapping affairs over the course of five years.
Almost before I’d finished processing this, another friend told me she was 100 percent faithful to her husband, except when she was out of town for work each month.
Often, they loved their husbands, but felt in some fundamental way that their needs (sexual, emotional, psychological) were not being met inside the marriage. Some even wondered if their husbands knew about their infidelity, choosing to look away.
Adultery and Divorce
I’ve written about the cheating before. Adultery can be the cause of a divorce, but can it impact the outcome? Since Florida became a no-fault state, the fact that, “she (or he) is sleeping with a co-worker” doesn’t hold much traction in court any more.
Anyone can file for divorce without proving any reason for it other than the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Or is it? When is adultery relevant in divorce?
However, there is still a statutory basis for infidelity to be an issue in your divorce proceedings, but not in the way most people think. Here’s a quick review of when adultery can potentially creep into your divorce:
Chapter 61 discusses the “the moral fitness of the parents” as one of the factors the court considers in determining the best interests of a child.
So, if one parent can prove that the other parent’s adultery had, or is reasonably likely to have, an adverse impact on the child, the judge can consider adultery in evaluating what’s in the best interest of the child.
Adultery may impact the division of property. Florida is an equitable distribution state, and it is presumed that property should be evenly divided.
This presumption may be overcome by proof that one spouse intentionally wasted marital assets.
This waste is sometimes known as dissipation. Paying for expensive jewelry, foreign trips, rent, car payments, and dinners for girlfriends and boyfriends is considered wasting marital assets. The court has the power to reduce an adulterer’s equitable distribution to credit the marital estate for waste.
Florida law specifically provides that a court may consider the adultery of either spouse in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.
However, courts have struggled to reconcile the “fault” of adultery with the concept of “no fault” divorce. The result is a mix of opinions depending on the judges.
Back to the Study
These women from the CNN article were turning to adultery not as a way to explode a marriage, but as a way to stay in it. The women seemed in control of their own transgressions. There seemed to be something new about this approach.
Twenty or thirty years ago they might have opted for divorce, because surely there was another man out there who could do better in this role, who could satisfy them completely.
But a lot of these women are children of divorce. They lived through the difficulties divorce can create.
The CNN article is here.