Navigating Infidelity During Divorce
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash.
Zoe Rose
Zoe Rose
Family Team Leader & Senior Associate
Hedges Law

Divorce is a complex process that involves legal, emotional, and social challenges. When infidelity enters the equation, it adds another layer to an already difficult situation. Infidelity fundamentally breaches the trust foundation of marital relationships. The discovery of infidelity often leads to a breakdown in communication and emotional connection between spouses. This can result in increased conflict during a separation and divorce.

The Emotional Impact

For the person who has discovered the infidelity, this revelation can cause feelings of betrayal and disillusionment. They may experience a loss of confidence in themselves and their ability to judge the character and motives of their partner. This can lead to a reassessment of their own needs and priorities, potentially shaping their approach to post-divorce life.

Children caught in the midst of infidelity during divorce may experience disruptions to their sense of stability and security. Witnessing parental conflict and emotional distress can impact their emotional well-being and may influence their attitudes towards relationships in the future. However, the extent of these effects can vary greatly from child to child depending on their age, temperament, and the level of conflict between parents.

Outside of the immediate family unit, infidelity can strain relationships with extended family members and mutual friends. Dividing loyalties and navigating interpersonal dynamics can create further tension and may lead to estrangements or fractures within social circles.

Despite the challenges posed by infidelity during divorce, there is room for resolution and growth. Couples who are willing to engage in open communication and seek support can find avenues for reconciliation or an amicable separation. Alternatively, individuals may use the experience of infidelity as an opportunity for self-reflection and personal development, leading to a more empowered approach to post-divorce life.

The Legal Impact

Whilst there is a clear emotional impact on divorce, there is no automatic impact to the legal processes or associated financial matters/arrangements for children.

Since the introduction of “no fault” divorce in April 2022, spouses can apply for a divorce on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably without setting out any explanation. Whilst this means that either spouse could start divorce proceedings, to assist with the emotions that flow following the discovery of infidelity it is often helpful for the couple to agree that the spouse who has been cheated should start the divorce process. This can often help to provide closure.

In a similar way, whilst the infidelity in and of itself will not result in there being a different outcome when it comes to the appropriate division of the financial resources or the arrangements for the children, allowing time for the individuals involved to come to terms with what has happened can have a huge impact. The process of discussing and agreeing the practical implications following a separation are challenging enough, if people have not allowed themselves space to process the ending of their relationship this can lead to more acrimony.

If a decision is made to progress a relationship with the person that a spouse had an affair with, this can have wider implications, particularly in relation to financial matters. If they choose to live together then their ability to share outgoings will be taken into consideration, as will any potential of pooling assets (or mortgage capacities) to house themselves moving forward.

Similarly, their suitability to be around children will also be considered and could result in different arrangements if they are deemed to pose any risk to the children.

If this is something that you are concerned about it is important that you take early legal advice so that you can ensure that your separation does not become unnecessarily acrimonious.

About Zoe Rose

Zoe Rose is a Family Team Leader & Senior Associate at Hedges Law. She has specialised in family law supporting individuals and their families through periods of significant change for over 10 years. Zoe is committed to providing honest and concise advice so that her clients are clear on their position and all possible options from the outset.

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