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Divorce, adultery and the division of assets

In a marriage, adultery is considered the ultimate betrayal, and it sends many couples heading for divorce court.

Often, one person feels severely wronged, as his or her spouse has just been unfaithful to the marriage. That person often wants "justice" and expects to get it in divorce court.

The thing to remember, though, is that courts don't usually see it the same way at all.

For instance, a person may try to argue that he or she should get the bulk of the assets in the divorce. That person feels like gaining more wealth is right and helps balance out the way he or she was wronged during the marriage.

Experts note that the division of assets is rarely impacted at all by infidelity -- or any other reason for divorce. The court is not there to make the spouse who was cheated on feel better. The court is there to fairly divide assets between the two.

The best way to think of it is simple: The court essentially does not care why you're splitting up or how you feel. You could be happy, sad, angry or none of the above. You may feel wronged or you may be in the wrong. It's all the same to the court. The job is just to split things up in accordance with the law, every time.

There are rather rare exceptions. For instance, a prenuptial agreement may factor in, or one spouse may be able to claim that compensation is needed for marital assets that were spent on the affair.

Generally speaking, though, an affair doesn't change the division ratio at all. Be sure, if you're heading to court, that you know exactly what factors the law actually takes into account.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Questions: How Does Adultery Affect A Divorce Case?," Katherine Eisold Miller, accessed Oct. 20, 2017

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