When you are married, getting caught cheating is one of the worst things that can happen for you and your spouse.
People cheat on their spouses for a myriad of different reasons. At one end of the spectrum, the marriage may be on its last legs and someone meets someone with whom they will share a long and happy future before the marriage is truly over. At the other end of the spectrum there are people who enjoy the thrill of the chase, with multiple partners and enjoy leading a double life. And there is everything in between.
No one who cheats on their spouse wants to be found out, yet it happens regularly. As modern technology makes it easier for illicit communications, synced devices, leaving phones unlocked, or computer screens open means there are many modern ways in which a spouse can discover an infidelity.
What constitutes cheating?
The answer to this question will be different for different couples. A strong emotional bond with no sexual interaction would be cheating for some, while for others it would only be full intercourse. In the family courts, adultery means full sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex. If this didn’t occur, but you still wish to divorce because of an infidelity, then you can not use adultery as a reason.
If this did occur and you wish to divorce, then you have to file for divorce within 6 months of your spouse discovering the infidelity.
Does adultery mean divorce?
Only you and your spouse can decide if adultery automatically means divorce. People have different lines and standards. Often it is the deceit, more than the act itself which most upsets the faithful spouse.
Many couples move on from an infidelity to have long and happy marriages, for others they may try and fail, divorcing 5 or 10 years down the line as they can’t restore the trust. Others choose to separate straight away.
How to save your marriage after being unfaithful
If you have been caught being unfaithful but wish to save your marriage, you will most likely need third party assistance and to attend counselling. You will have to honestly and openly address why you cheated and your spouse will need to see you putting in some serious effort to make changes.
Couples counselling can help you to open up the lines of communication and give you and your spouse a safe place in which to communicate.
You will have to be prepared to work long and hard to rebuild the trust in your relationship, but your spouse will have to agree to work towards moving on from the infidelity. If you agree to stay together then bringing it up in every argument for years to come won’t help either of you.
How to get a fair divorce
There are many rumours about divorce. One is that the partner “in the wrong” will automatically lose everything and have limited access to the children. However, this is not the case. As long as everything you have been getting up to is perfectly legal amongst consenting adults, then there is no cause for concern.
The infidelity may result in your spouse being exceptionally angry and cause them to put up more of a fight than they may otherwise have done. If this is the case, then ensure you have good legal support from a specialist family solicitor. Family judges look to split assets in a marriage 50 – 50, no matter who is “at fault.” Time with children will also be divided fairly, taking into account their welfare, living arrangements and educational needs.
In England and Wales, in order to divorce without waiting 2 or 5 years for “separation,” someone has to be “at fault.” Family judges and solicitors do not care about what this fault is, as long as there are no child welfare concerns. You won’t be treated unfairly by admitting to adultery and using that as the reason for divorce. There is no need to accept an unfair deal because you feel guilty.
As well as focussing on the practical aspects of your divorce, if you have children, you need to work towards a new relationship with your spouse, in order that you can both parent effectively. Even if your marriage is over, you may still try counselling to open up communication. In the early days, try only communicating via letter or email, so you can state what you have to say without things getting heated. Put your children at the forefront of your mind during all interactions.
How to stay with your “bit on the side”
If you have cheated on your spouse with someone that you are seeking a long term relationship with, then you need to tread carefully. You first need to be sure that this is the person for you and the excitement and taboo element of the affair was not driving your passion.
They are going to be in for a rollercoaster ride as you work through your emotions and practical aspects of the split. Have an honest conversation about both of your expectations for the next 6 months, 1 year and 2 years and be prepared to slow things down.
Don’t lean on them for emotional support during your divorce, they will not want to hear that you are upset about the end of your marriage. Find family and friends to support you. While the separation is ongoing, ensure the time you spend with your new beau is fun and amongst the all the chaos, you build a firm foundation for the rest of your relationship.
They may feel insecure about any emotion you still harbour for your ex and question where your loyalties lie, so keep the communication open and be prepared to provide reassurance when they need it.