“My husband cheated. What are my rights?”
Many people who come to us for help have similar stories – thanks to an unfaithful husband, the marriage is on the rocks.
Often, cheating is an unforgivable offense. It’s something that destroys the foundation of a marriage, and it sends spouses looking for an “out.” And while cheating won’t have an impact on child custody (except in rare cases), you absolutely have rights if your husband cheated on you.
Here’s what you need to know.
My Husband Cheated. What Are My Rights?
There’s no doubt that cheating often leads to divorce. Some spouses stay, working toward resolutions (both personal and marital) – but others can’t live with the trauma.
Generally speaking, your husband’s infidelity doesn’t grant you any special rights in your divorce. You are entitled to a divorce if you want one – and because California is a no-fault divorce state, you don’t have to have a reason at all. You also have the right to a fair amount of time with your children, if you have them, and you may be entitled to spousal support.
In one special – and rare – circumstance, you may be entitled to reimbursement from your spouse. That can happen when your spouse spent money on his affair partner that belonged to your marital estate. California is a community property state, which means everything that you accumulate while you’re married belongs to both of you equally. If you can prove what your spouse spent on his affair partner, the court may be able to order him to repay your marital estate for it.
The courts can’t use fault to determine things like child custody in most divorce cases. That means even if your husband cheated on you multiple times, or in plain view of your children, judges can’t usually say, “Well, you automatically get child custody.” (There are some exceptions, though, which we’ll cover next.)
The state of California recognizes that it’s in a child’s best interest to have a healthy relationship with both of his or her parents. The exception is when your husband’s cheating changes his “fitness” as a parent.
Related: Does cheating affect custody?
When Cheating and Being an Unfit Parent Go Hand-in-Hand
In California, the best interest of the child is the most important thing when it comes to determining child custody. Parental fitness – the ability a parent has to provide a safe, nurturing and healthy environment for a child – is extremely important. Usually, it takes pretty extreme circumstances for the courts to consider a parent “unfit” to care for his or her children, such as drug use, physical abuse or other issues.
A court may find that your soon-to-be ex-husband is unfit to parent your children if he moves in with the affair partner and abuses drugs, or if he or the affair partner abuse your children, for example.
And while living accommodations don’t necessarily make your ex an unfit parent, the court will certainly consider the size of his home or apartment when determining child custody. For example, if he moves into a studio apartment, there may not be room for your children to sleep overnight; in a case like that, the court would rule in favor of what’s best for your children.
In some divorce cases, one spouse has to pay the other alimony (commonly called spousal support). The money is typically intended to help a lower-earning spouse get back on his or her feet. While cheating won’t affect the amount of alimony you get from your spouse, it may change the amount you owe if he qualifies for it. That can happen if he’s living with his affair partner, who can help defray his living expenses.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Rights After Your Husband Cheated?
If your husband cheated and you need to know about your rights, we may be able to help you. Call us right away at (209) 546-6870 or get in touch with a Stockton divorce attorney online to schedule a consultation today.