I confess. I cheated. During my separation. I DON’T ENDORSE OR CONDONE IT, but it happened. I’m a moderately religious guy who felt it was morally wrong because I wasn’t divorced yet. Despite my justifications, separated IS still married and #realtalk – it still bothers me to this day.
But, I learned a few surprising things as my divorce progressed. All infidelities aren’t viewed as catastrophic, biblical crimes in divorce court. And my infidelity actually helped me win custody of my kids. Few people will tell you to cheat. It’s not suggested or supported by anyone; but that said, I know first-hand that it worked for me.
Can I Really Cheat And Still Win Custody?
Maybe. Depends on your situation. Little known to the general public is that there are different levels of cheating per divorce court. There’s 1) cheating that causes the divorce, 2) cheating that’s been forgiven, and 3) cheating that didn’t cause the divorce. There are levels to this.
1. Cheating That Causes Your Divorce
If you’re trying to win custody, cheating that causes the divorce is the hardest to fight and will hurt your case. This kind of cheating shows that you weren’t mature, responsible or capable enough to keep it in your pants.
2. Cheating That’s Been Forgiven
Any cheating that’s been forgiven still hurts your case but can be fixed with some effort and other potential circumstances. For example, proof that your STBX (soon to be ex) also cheated will help your case. Also, any evidence of reconciliation helps too (resuming a sexual relationship, renewal of vows, having children after infidelity, and so on). Any reconciliation must be proven in court to work in your favor. Doable.
3. Cheating That Didn’t Cause Your Divorce
Most divorce courts also recognize cheating that didn’t cause the divorce. This kind of cheating (which I engaged in) typically has no effect on your case. A consensual open relationship, cheating that wasn’t discovered, or sleeping with someone new after you’ve separated doesn’t really matter legally to the court. If any of these situations apply, just gather enough evidence to prove it and you should be fine. If you’re seeing someone new, the definition of separation differs in each state. Get familiar with how your state classifies separation to make sure that your situation qualifies. Whatever the situation is, make sure to inform your lawyer.
So, Why Could Cheating Be Good For My Case?
Accepting that your marriage is over, takes an incredible toll on you. Losing yourself creates “mental noise” that makes it hard to move on and can destroy your case later. Dating someone new does a couple important things: 1) it allows you to mentally and emotionally move on – giving you the focus and clarity needed to protect yourself and prepare for court, and 2) it gives you support – which eases your mind and balances out the negativity you’re experiencing.
My advice: If the relationship is totally over, date someone verbally, emotionally, or physically (as long as it’s NOT your STBX). Regardless of whether it’s right or wrong, use my experience with discretion and do whatever your lawyer suggests — or you’re comfortable with. Looking back, I’d do it again, as the positives greatly outweighed any negatives. If you’re thinking about dating during your separation, here are a few things to consider:
- If your new relationship didn’t begin during your marriage (and wasn’t the cause of the divorce), the court won’t care.
- Make sure that you’re ready to date and that it won’t complicate your life.
- Take things slowly.
- Date in the background. Your focus should be on your children (if you have them) and preparing for court.
- Date with discretion. Don’t broadcast your dating life (especially to your children, STBX, or online).
- If you have a history of cheating, don’t date during your separation.
- If you suspect your STBX will claim infidelity, don’t date during your separation.
- Date casually now to relieve stress. Date seriously after your divorce is final.
- Inform your lawyer that you’re dating. Your lawyer’s advice outweighs anything in this article.
Again, the proof is in my results. I WON primary legal & physical child custody. I WON child support. I WON our home. I DIDN’T PAY alimony. I DIDN’T PAY spousal support. My STBX (soon to be ex) paid some of MY court costs and got visitation every other weekend. She worked full-time, didn’t have a seedy past and we raised our children together for 10+ years. Still, I WON.
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