Your Cheating Spouse:
Detecting and Surviving an Affair

By Staff Writer

As a family law attorney, I know that perhaps nothing is more devastating to an individual or family unit as an affair. Many of my clients who have been cheated on by their significant other equate the experience with a death. While it is easy to succumb to the powerful, and oftentimes negative emotions associated with discovering that your spouse has been disloyal, it is extremely important from a legal and personal standpoint that you attempt to maintain your cool and act proactively.

If you suspect that your spouse is cheating, do not confront him or her. Now is the time to gather crucial evidence about the affair. This information will either dissuade or confirm your suspicions and help you in the event that you do discover that your spouse is cheating and decide to end the relationship by filing for a divorce. Many times, individuals in such situations must act quickly to get their case before a Judge. If your proof is established before that point and you are poised to enter litigation, you have an advantage over your unsuspecting and disloyal spouse.

It is not always necessary to hire a private investigator to obtain proof that your spouse is cheating. While such a resource can be extremely helpful in gathering photographs and other hard proof of adultery, there are steps that you can take to build your case. I have learned that cheaters are often sloppy and not extremely clever in hiding their actions. Material that has been left laying around your home or in easily accessible locations, such as a car or wallet, can be a treasure trove of information. Carefully scrutinize cellular telephone bills, credit card statements and receipts. If friends or others report suspicious behavior to you, make a note of the information with as much detail as possible.

Either before or while you are gathering your proof, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. Even if you have not decided if you want to pursue a divorce, by speaking with an attorney, you will be apprized of your legal rights and obligations. Knowing your rights will only make a stressful time more manageable.

If you learn that your spouse is cheating, you must make a choice. Adultery does not always mean the end of a marriage. If your spouse and you are both willing, you can attempt to work through the problems that led to the affair and possibly emerge from the experience with a renewed commitment to each other and a stronger marriage. Obtaining the assistance of a psychologist or other mental health professional can help you focus and work on the crucial issues.

If you decide that the marriage is beyond repair and elect litigation, it is crucial that you concentrate strongly on remaining focused on your best interests rather than inflicting hurt or revenge on your spouse and his or her paramour. This is not to discount your reasonable feelings of hurt, betrayal and anger. Unfortunately, however, when litigants allow these feelings to guide their actions in a divorce case, they often spend an unnecessarily large amount of money on litigation costs and end up with a result with which they are unhappy.

To remain focused you should have an outlet for expressing the feelings related to the breakup of your marriage and your spouse=s disloyalty. Counseling and the reliance on friends and family are crucial and can help you move through this difficult time. In selecting your support-system, remember to keep your children out of it. You should never discuss your divorce or the other parent negatively with your child. Not only could such behavior harm your child, it could negatively impact upon you in future custody litigation.

As you are going through the divorce process, it is natural to discuss your case with your support system. Remember, however, that as your support system, these individuals will often tell you what you want to hear. It is all too common for clients to report that such support persons have informed them of their interpretation of the law and what the client should gain from the litigation. Try to filter out these well-intentioned statements. It is likely that your friend is not a family law attorney. Also, in matrimonial and family law, cases are extremely fact specific. Depending on the particular facts of your case, the Court in which your action is pending, and the Judge assigned to decide your case, the outcome could be incredibly different from that of someone else with seemingly similar circumstances.

As you move through the litigation, remain focused on your options and goals. Every decision should be made with the aim of meeting your best interests and not on hurting or "showing" your spouse or his or her paramour. If you remain true to yourself and this plan, you will likely emerge from the litigation more emotionally sound and having spent far less money than those who allow anger and vindictiveness to be their guide.