Infidelity is often cited as the reason why a marriage ends in divorce, as the trust between spouses is no longer present. While numbers vary depending on the source, it is estimated that upwards of 25% of men cheat on their spouses, while at least 15% of women have extramarital affairs.
Why Do We Cheat?
While it is hard to pinpoint exactly why a person cheats on their spouse, but some of the most common reasons can include:
- Lack of emotional or sexual/physical satisfaction or attraction with a spouse;
- Curiosity about having new experiences;
- Falling out of love/decrease in chemistry between spouses;
- Revenge or anger.
These are just a few of the many and complex reasons why some people commit adultery, and seek to have a relationship outside of their marriage. It is important to note that extramarital affairs do not necessarily have to be physical or sexual, they can also be emotional.
Emotional vs. Physical Affairs
The definition of a physical affair is straight forward: it is when one person has a sexual relationship with someone other than his or her spouse. An emotional fair is a little more complex and harder to define. According to marriage therapist and author Sheri Meyers, an emotional affair is “essentially an affair of the heart” and occurs when someone develops a strong, non-sexual, connection with a person other than their spouse.
Emotional affairs can be just as damaging as a physical one. What started out as a friendship morphs into something more, and takes away attention from the marriage. An emotional affair can start as a new friendship, but will cross the line if romantic feels develop, and the relationship is kept secret from the other spouse. Signs of an emotional affair can include increased communication (email, text messages, and social media) between the two adults, fantasies involving the other person, or a general lack of interest in the marriage.
Does Infidelity Impact Divorce Cases?
The recent Ashley Madison hack has catapulted the issue of extramarital affairs and divorce into the limelight. Angry and feeling betrayed, victims of infidelity will often vow to destroy their spouse during divorce, believing that cheating is frowned on by the courts.
Unfortunately, this is not true. New York is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that a specific reason for divorce does not need to be cited in an initial court filing. There are no laws in New York that penalize adulterers for having an affair, so the effected spouse will not be successful in their attempt to mend their broken heart with a cash or asset heavy divorce settlement.
Scorned spouses can forget about suing the “other woman” or “other man” if their husband or wife is caught cheating. There are only a small handful of States in the country that recognize Alienation of Affection lawsuits, and New York is not one of them. These actions allow the innocent spouse to sue the person their partner had an affair with because they are presumed to be the reason why a marriage is ending, or are guilty of “stealing” affection and love from the innocent spouse. These cases are controversial, and often referred to as revenge lawsuits.
Should I Divorce My Cheating Spouse?
Deciding to proceed with divorce is a very personal and difficult decision to make. If the couple is willing to work on their marriage, via counseling or therapy, and are determined to overcome this relationship setback, then a divorce isn’t necessary. However, there is always the chance that the trust between spouses cannot be rebuilt. Staying in an unhealthy or tension filled marriage is not ideal, and a trial separation or divorce is the best option for all involved.
It is important that parties do not allow their actions to be driven by emotion, since it can often lead to frivolous litigation and increased legal fees. A divorce caused by cheating can be a tumultuous experience, and it is recommended that victims of infidelity turn to their friends and family members for support during (and after) the proceedings. Having a loving support system is crucial to coping with the end of a marriage.
New York Divorce Powerhouse
Focusing on improving their mental and physical health after being cheated on should be a top priority for divorce litigants. This is why hiring an experienced attorney to handle the court action is crucial. The law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. focuses on tough matrimonial and family law cases, providing intelligent and aggressive representation to New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs and Long Island. For more information, or to schedule a free and confidential consultation, call 718-875-7584 today!