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The Ashley Madison effect: Adultery’s impact on divorce

The unfaithfulness of a partner can shake a marriage hard enough for a relationship to crumble. Too many British Columbia couples, cheating is a deal-breaking violation of trust that -- immediately or eventually -- leads to the end of a marriage or common-law relationship.

No-fault divorce allows a marriage to be dissolved without placing blame on the parties involved. However, proof of adultery can have an impact on the divorce process. As hurtful as cheating is, evidenced by the recent strong reaction to the release of hacked information from the pro-affair Ashley Madison dating website, an offended spouse must decide whether the benefits of dragging adultery into the legal process are worth it.

Sufficient evidence of a spouse's physical cheating can shorten the time it takes to obtain a divorce, which otherwise requires a one-year separation period. Digging up proof of infidelity can add to the stress and hurt the offended spouse already feels. It's important to remember, for the most part, Canadian divorce laws impose no punishments upon spouses who are cheaters.

Adultery cannot be used to deny a parent's right to access their child or even child custody. Marital faithfulness, or lack of it, has no effect upon spousal support decisions, and in most cases, the division of family property. The only time a cheater is penalized during divorce is when the money used to fund an affair interferes with child support or the value of divisible property.

Divorce laws do not favor one spouse over another when one partner cheats. But, there are provisions that punish an adulterous spouse's financial irresponsibility. A spouse who can show adultery expenses were significant and wasteful, may walk away with more support or a greater than equal share of family property.

Marital infidelity can cause emotional turmoil that influences sound decision-making. Lawyers can advise clients about using adultery evidence during divorce and help clients focus on long-term goals that survive heartache.

Source: Huffington Post Canada, "How Would Finding Your Spouse on the Ashley Madison List Affect Your Divorce?," Andrew Feldstein, Aug. 21, 2015

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