Infidelity and divorce are highly emotional things to go through. However, if you’re hoping a divorce judge is going to listen to your story and punish your spouse for their behavior, that won’t happen.

Cheating and other “marital misconduct” have no direct effect on child support, spousal support, or property division. But ask a lawyer with an attention to detail and you may find there are five potentially important things to consider.

First, if your spouse spent money on their extramarital relationship, they may owe you some of that money back. Gifts to a paramour, wining, dining, and travel are all fair game for this claim (known as dissipation). It is important to note that your judge will only be able to consider dissipation during a maximum period of 5 years before your marriage began breaking down.

Second, if your spouse ends up having to pay child support for a child of another relationship, that may affect the amount of child support you receive for your own child.

Third, if your spouse gets pregnant as a result of their affair, the child is presumed to be your child. You will likely want to have a judge rule that the child is not yours so that you don’t end up financially responsible for someone else’s child.

Fourth, if your spouse’s affair continues while your divorce is pending, a judge may prohibit your spouse from having overnight “visits” with their paramour when the children are present.

Fifth, if your spouse moves in with a significant other, and they have the appearance of being a married couple, he or she may be ineligible for spousal support.

You may have heard that Illinois is a “no-fault” state and that is true. All that means, however, is that you don’t need to prove a specific reason (e.g., infidelity, mental or physical cruelty) to get a divorce. Only one spouse needs to believe the marriage is over. Fun fact: adultery is still a crime in Illinois!

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