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Colorado Family Law

Debunking the divorce myth that an affair impacts asset division

Divorce is a common experience in our culture, but many people remain woefully uninformed about the realities of divorce. Myths and urban legends seem to dominate public opinion about what happens in a divorce. From the belief that court systems are inherently biased against fathers to the idea that infidelity has a direct impact on the outcome, many people believe wildly inaccurate things about divorce.

When they seek to understand their own marriage, they may attempt to use those inaccurate beliefs as a baseline for how they approach the process and their expectations of the divorce. Understanding that the courts generally do not care about infidelity is an important first step toward adjusting your expectations when you end your marriage.

The courts divide your assets without consideration of marital wrongdoing

In almost all states, including Colorado, it is possible to secure a divorce without cause. Decades ago, a spouse would have to prove to the courts that there was something wrong with their marriage in order to secure divorce. In those situations, being able to prove infidelity meant that you could secure a divorce when otherwise the law would require you to stay married to your unfaithful partner.

However, it is not necessary in Colorado to establish fault in order to secure a divorce. Instead, you can file for a divorce on the grounds that you have grown apart from your spouse or that there has been a substantial breakdown of the marital relationship.

Part of no fault divorce means not considering fault when splitting up marital assets. While there may be extreme situations in which the courts will consider infidelity, such as when a spouse spends thousands of dollars while conducting an affair, in most cases, extramarital relationships will not impact the outcome of the asset division process.

Infidelity will not impact child custody either

For families with children, child custody is often of more hotly contested than asset division. If you feel like your spouse wronged you by having an affair, it is natural to want to avoid interacting with them in the future. Securing sole custody of your children may seem like a way to avoid the painful reality of seeing an unfaithful ex multiple times a week.

Unfortunately, once you have children with someone, it is nearly impossible to fully sever the social and legal ties you have. Shared custody is the most likely outcome in the average divorce, and no amount of infidelity will sway the courts from deciding in the best interest of the children rather than the parents.

The only situation in which infidelity could impact a child custody case as if the person involved with your ex has a history of child abuse or specific criminal convictions. If you can demonstrate to the courts that this new partner is unsafe, the courts may specify, in the custody order, that the children may not visit the home at the same time as your ex's new partner. Barring this, however, chances are good that the courts will not allow allegations of infidelity to impact how they rule in your marriage.

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