Adultery and Divorce
Ashley Madison, a dating website designed for people who want to cheat on their spouses, was hacked in late August. Various account information, including the names and personal information of more than 30 million users, was revealed. The leak of such sensitive information is expected to result in many couples divorcing.
Adultery occurs when a married person carries on a sexual relationship with a person who is not his or her legal spouse. However, under Illinois law, there is little effect on the process or result of a divorce when one spouse commits adultery.
Grounds for Divorce
Illinois currently allows for fault divorce until the state’s family law overhaul takes effect January 1, 2016. One of the fault grounds for divorce is adultery. Therefore, under current law, a spouse can get an immediate divorce based on adultery. Unlike no-fault divorce, there is no waiting period for a fault-based divorce in Illinois. Current law requires a waiting period of two years for no-fault divorces. However, if the spouses agree, they may reduce the waiting period to six months.
Beginning January 2016, fault-based divorce will no longer be an option in Illinois. Instead, spouses will have to demonstrate that irreconcilable differences have led to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Adultery or other marital misconduct does not affect the amount of alimony awarded in Illinois. State law requires alimony to be calculated without any regard to marital misconduct. Rather, alimony is calculated based on what is fair. When determining what is fair, judges consider various factors including each spouse’s income and needs.
Marital waste, also known as dissipation, occurs when one spouse uses marital funds for a purpose unrelated to the marriage, while the marriage is undergoing an irretrievable breakdown. If a spouse uses marital funds for purposes of an affair — for example, by buying presents or taking trips — then he or she may have committed marital waste.
If a spouse brings an accusation of dissipation against an adulterous spouse, then the adulterous spouse must prove that the funds were used for a marital purpose. If the adulterous spouse cannot prove this, then the other spouse is entitled to be compensated for that loss.
Illinois courts make custody decisions based on a child’s best interests — adultery rarely has an effect on child custody determinations. Custody decisions are made to consider a child’s needs, rather than to punish a misbehaving parent. Adultery will only be taken into account if the misconduct affects a parent's relationship with his or her child, or if the parent’s relationship poses a threat of harm to the child.
Adultery could possibly have an effect on parenting if a parent neglects his or her child in favor of spending time with a lover. Still, generally, adultery does not affect a person’s ability to be a good parent to a child.
If your spouse has cheated on you, and you are considering divorce, please called skilled Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson to discuss your options and your case. Call 847.873.6741 today to schedule your free initial consultation.