Culture / Newsy

If You Find Out Your Spouse is Cheating, Don’t Get Mad — Calabrese Budner Offers Advice on Navigating Divorce

How to Protect Your Rights

BY // 12.20.23

Infidelity is one of the most difficult problems to navigate in a marriage — and one that frequently destroys the relationship. A mix of emotions follow the discovery of an unfaithful spouse: shock, sadness, anger, and fear of what the future holds. When cheating leads to divorce, revenge may be at the top of your mind, or even your number-one goal. “Focusing on revenge and letting your emotions control the process is not the best way to get even,” says Lee Budner, partner at the family law firm of Calabrese Budner. While processing emotions is an integral part of dealing with infidelity, when it comes to divorce, a calm, rational approach is necessary to achieve your goals and come out ahead. Adultery, if proven, may impact the allocation of property and debts between spouses, the award of alimony, and custody decisions in Texas.

Impact on Property Division

An affair may impact the court’s division of marital property through an uneven or disproportionate division. A spouse who has been cheated on may also have additional claims available to them, such as a claim for waste.

A cheating spouse often spends community money on their paramour — fancy hotels, lavish gifts, gourmet meals, and other spending without your knowledge. They are spending your money without your consent. Facts such as these give rise to a claim for waste of marital assets, for which you may be entitled to reimbursement. “To protect your rights, evidence is crucial. It is best to start working with your attorney to collect and preserve evidence as soon as possible,” Budner says. You need an attorney adept at pursuing discovery so that you can obtain the evidence you need and then present it persuasively in the settlement context or at trial.

How Cheating Can Affect Alimony in Texas

Alimony, known under Texas law as spousal maintenance, is not awarded automatically in divorce cases, even when a spouse has committed adultery. Generally, a spouse seeking spousal maintenance must show a need for support either because they don’t have sufficient financial resources to meet their reasonable minimum needs or because they are supporting a child with special needs, which prevents them from being able to obtain those financial resources. A spouse who committed acts of domestic violence may also be ordered to pay spousal support. Those actions may impact the amount or length of time of the alimony. Adultery is also a factor that a court will consider when awarding alimony to a spouse entitled to the support. Evidence of cheating can not only help you gain an advantage during litigation, but it can also provide leverage when negotiating alimony during settlement or in the Collaborative Divorce process.

Calabrese Budner
Carla Calabrese and Lee Budner.

Marital Infidelity Can Potentially Impact Child Custody

While adultery may call into question a spouse’s character, it does not necessarily reflect on their ability to be a good parent. Marital infidelity on its own is not likely to impact custody determinations. “If, however, one spouse is in a dating or intimate relationship with someone who poses a risk to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being, that is certainly relevant to and could impact custody issues,” Budner says.

Infidelity is Not a Silver Bullet

Without question, infidelity can impact a case — but it’s rarely the silver bullet you expect. While infidelity is extremely personal, it’s also very common. Courts can be desensitized to the issue, and while it may be a factor in helping you get more than your fair share of the marital estate, it often does not tip the scales in a big way. “Addressing infidelity is important in a divorce, but you have to be careful and not let it consume your strategy and your case,” says partner Carla Calabrese.

Gaining Your Objectives Through Collaborative Divorce

To soothe your own emotions about a cheating spouse, it would be natural to want to see your spouse punished publicly with the humiliation of a big court battle. But that’s not how it works. Because those high-conflict battles are financially and emotionally costly, you may come our further ahead in the long run if you work through a negotiated Collaborative Divorce resolution of your marriage.

Calabrese is acclaimed as a pioneer in the field of Collaborative Divorce. With a Master Credential in Collaborative Divorce and more than 30 years of diverse family law experience, Calabrese has seen it all. “Rather than hoping that a judge’s decision will align with your needs, by working with a specialized team of divorce professionals in a Collaborative Divorce, you can develop terms that work best for you and your children,” she says. “You can insulate your family from much of the emotional cost that goes along with divorce litigation.” You can also begin the healing process from the affair sooner by reaching a positive resolution in less time than litigated cases, and with greater control over the process.

Don’t Get Mad, Get Even by Living Your Best Life Ahead

The actions of a cheating spouse can be devastating. Instead of focusing on revenge, focus on living well. The experienced divorce team at Calabrese Budner is prepared to advocate for your best future, whether through Collaborative Divorce out of court, hotly contested litigation, or anything in between. Contact Calabrese Budner now to get started.

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