What Are My Rights If My Husband Cheated?

Updated December 15, 2023
12 min read
What Are My Rights If My Husband Cheated?

Introduction

Despite the many issues you may have been experiencing in the marriage, a breach of marital vows, for most wives, can be an absolute deal-breaker. It’s essential to know your legal rights in case of such infidelity.

Due to the feeling of betrayal and hurt, there can be a roller coaster of emotion and dilemma on what options are available and which one’s the best — part ways (in which case you would have to take legal action against the cheating husband, usually in the form of a divorce) or give him another chance.

Before making a final decision, take some time so that you will be able to stay true to whatever decision you make. The stats have it — The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that from 20% to 40% of divorces in the United States are linked to infidelity. So, we want you to know that many people like you have gone through a divorce, and with legal help, you will end up even better off.

Now, if you seek a conclusive end to the “My husband cheated, what are my rights?” dilemma, read on to know what legal options, rights, and remedies are available to you when dealing with a cheating husband.

How Do I Prove That My Husband Cheated?

To prove that your husband is cheating, you might not need a sex tape or other proof of sexual intercourse. There are different ways to prove an extramarital affair other than these, such as:

  • Photographs and videos;

  • Text messages, phone records, and emails that clearly show proof of an affair. (However, you cannot obtain the evidence by invading someone’s privacy);

  • Bank transactions. (Especially if these transactions were made from the couple’s joint account);

  • Property papers or receipts of what the husband bought for the affair partner;

  • Evidence of an illegitimate child; or

  • Transmission of a sexual disease from the unfaithful husband to the wife.

While your instincts might be right, they may not suffice as evidence in court when looking to prove your case. The onus in sensitive proceedings like this is usually on the accused party.

So, gather whatever little evidence you can get and ensure you do not obtain them illegally. After discussing it with your attorney, you may hire a private investigator. Such an investigator is typically someone who has received training or is experienced in the legal standards for proving an affair in court and has the investigative/forensic skills to help you meet these legal requirements.

While the court can always subpoena emails and phone records, if you are contemplating separation or divorce and suspect that your partner cheated or is currently cheating, seek legal counsel before proceeding. Addressing the situation directly with your soon-to-be ex without proper, professional consultation and strong evidence may harm your case.

Depending on your state’s laws, you might need your husband’s signature before the divorce process can be approved. While cheating is a ground to file for divorce in many states, the court has to deem it “adultery” before approving the divorce process.

Divorcing with a Cheating Husband

Once you decide to go through with divorcing a cheating spouse, you might need legal advice on the divorce process to understand your rights, privileges, and the consequences of your decision.

Knowing how to divorce a cheating husband will include knowing what you are entitled to, what you will lose, and the processes involved. This will be easier with a divorce attorney by your side.

To divorce a cheating husband, you can take the following steps:

  • File a divorce petition as soon as you can;

  • Hire a reasonable divorce attorney;

  • Come with admissible evidence;

  • Suggest signing a divorce settlement agreement;

  • Prepare your children for the process; and

  • Prepare yourself for the effects and consequences.

Your rights if your husband spent money on an affair partner

If your spouse spent money on the affair partner, there are cases where you can get a reimbursement from your spouse. But this is only if the money he spent on the affair partner belongs to you. The money can be from your joint account or your marital estate.

Also, some community property states (California, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Washington, etc.) assert that any assets the spouses acquire during the marriage belong to both parties — and it doesn’t matter who buys them.

If you have proof of the money your spouse spent on the affair partner, you can get reimbursement by a court order.

Does adultery affect property division?

You may wonder, “My husband committed adultery. What are my rights on the property?” The “cheating spouse” factor is substantial enough to directly impact the court’s decision for property division in the divorce settlement aspect of your case. If your divorce decision results from a cheating spouse, the court will consider that as a factor that ended the marriage.

Thus, the judge may rule based on this and drastically cut back on the portion awarded to the cheating spouse. This would apply if the cheating spouse spent from the marital estate to pay for hotel room bills, vacations, or other activities that have to do with the extramarital affair.

Your rights to child custody after your husband cheated

Sadly, an extramarital affair might not count much when the judge decides on child custody and visitation. Family law believes that the parents should still be involved in the children’s best interests, and infidelity should not affect this verdict.

However, if the spouse’s cheating lifestyle affects the children via neglect or other ways, the judge can review the decision and rule in the other spouse’s favor.

After the divorce, each party is free to date, which might mean the cheating spouse dating the affair partner. While this can be traumatizing for you, it won’t affect their visitation and custody rights if the children are not affected.

However, you can request a parenting plan to address custody issues. In this plan, you can set guidelines around your children’s problems, including the new romantic partner.

If you and your family cannot reach a consensus, the court can involve a third party, probably a parenting coordinator, to help resolve these issues. But if there are no additional issues, it is unlikely that you will get sole custody of the children. Some problems that will cause a ruling for sole custody are:

  • Domestic abuse by the other partner or their romantic partner;

  • Neglect of duties to the child by not providing basic needs and responsibilities;

  • Mental instability of the partner;

  • Relocation of one partner outside the state or country;

  • Substance abuse by the parent, especially if it causes the parent to exhibit irrational behavior; or

  • Imprisonment of one parent. (If one parent is behind bars, the other parent does not have to take the child on visits to the prison, more so if it affects the child’s mental state).

What are my rights to alimony if my husband cheated?

The question, “Can I get alimony if my husband cheated?” is not new. However, cheating is not a reason to get alimony after a divorce. Sometimes, the wealthy spouse might have to pay spousal support to the other party, especially if the wealthy spouse is cheating.

Some of the factors that might influence an alimony decree are:

  1. Length of the marriage: Was the marriage for more than ten years? Is the claiming spouse unable to afford basic needs after the divorce?

  2. Child support: Is the spouse unable to work because they are caring for a child with a disability?

  3. Disability: Does the spouse claiming alimony have a disability that requires financial support?

  4. Domestic violence: Did the other spouse abuse the spouse seeking alimony?

Other relevant factors can be considered, like what state you reside in. Some states examine the presence of adultery or lack of it to determine whether you’re entitled to alimony or spousal support.

If the court believes your conduct has been adulterous, you may risk losing any entitlement you previously had to alimony or spousal support. On the flip side, it will help your claim for alimony if you didn’t cheat, but your partner did.

To stay on top of the varying legislation across states and know whether you are eligible for alimony support, speak to a divorce attorney. Also, the alimony might last only until the sponsored spouse can cover their living expenses.

Know Your Rights Before You Act

When you discover that your spouse is cheating, it is normal to feel betrayed and want to act out by destroying your spouse’s car or harming the affair partner. But before you take any action, know the legal implications.

Besides adverse legal implications, your ability to file a divorce petition could be compromised. So, while you might feel the need to let out your anger, do it within the confines of the law — get that divorce lawyer quick and file for a divorce!

Conclusion

After knowing all there is to know about the divorce negotiations and process, all that is left is getting a lawyer and starting the process. We at Lawrina will commit our divorce attorneys to help you. We will consider the emotional stress and pressure you will likely be under and make your divorce seamless.

Article by
Inna Chumachenko
Lawrina

Inna Chumachenko is the Content Lead at Lawrina. She is responsible for managing all the content found on the blog, guides, and other website pages. Inna has a degree in philology and a vast interest in law. In her role at Lawrina, Inna oversees the content team, establishes collaborations with writers, and curates content from various contributors.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the content for Lawrina, please feel free to contact Inna directly via email at i.chumachenko@lawrina.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prove that my husband cheated on me?

Proving adultery primarily depends on the evidence collected, which can vary with circumstances and legal jurisdictions. This might include photographs, text messages, emails, or testimony of witnesses. Hiring a private investigator is another common method utilized to gather evidence of an affair.


 

What are my rights when divorcing a cheating husband?

The rights of a spouse divorcing due to adultery largely depend on the jurisdiction and local divorce laws. In some locations, adultery can impact the division of marital assets, alimony decisions, and sometimes even custody arrangements.


 

What should I do if my husband spent money on his affair partner?

In certain jurisdictions, if a spouse has used marital funds to support an extramarital affair, it can affect the division of marital property. One might be entitled to a greater share of the marital assets if significant marital funds were spent on an affair.