Learning that your spouse had an affair can be devastating. You may wonder about you and your children’s future. You may feel completely lost about your next steps. It’s important to consider all your options when in this difficult and emotional situation.
What’s Next After an Affair
You can take a few different paths after discovering your spouse’s affair. Some choose to forgive their spouse and stay together, perhaps seeking marital counseling. Others can forgive their spouse but want to separate. The separation may lead to reconciliation or to divorce proceedings.
Sometimes, though, forgiveness is not in the cards. In that case, a separation (living separate and apart for a full year) can begin immediately, leading to divorce. You may need to take additional legal recourse against your spouse besides divorce, such as child custody proceedings or even legal actions against the person with whom your spouse had an affair.
Alternative Solutions for Separation and Divorce
If you and your spouse are on good terms despite the affair, you may want to pursue alternative options for separation and divorce besides going to court. For example, you might decide to use the collaborative divorce process. This involves amicable conferences between you and your spouse with attorneys trained in collaborative law present. You exchange information and work out an agreement together, instead of appearing before a judge.
Other alternative options include mediation and arbitration. Both involve more informal resolutions of your disputes over property division, support and more. In mediation, you work with a neutral mediator in conference rooms, exchanging information to try to reach an agreement. In arbitration, you present information to a neutral arbitrator during an informal hearing. The arbitrator makes a decision about the issues you raise. Collaborative divorce, mediation, and arbitration all could save you time and money if you use them instead of the traditional court process.
Difficult, Adversarial Divorces
Not all divorcing spouses are on friendly terms. If you and your spouse are at odds because of the affair or other marital problems, you may anticipate an adversarial divorce. Disagreements over child custody or property division could mean going to court. You will definitely need a good attorney on your side.
Your attorney can also advise you about your options for legal relief due to your spouse’s affair. In North Carolina, wronged spouses can pursue legal claims of criminal conversation or alienation of affection. Criminal conversation is a claim against a non-spouse for having sexual intercourse with a married person without the consent of their spouse. Alienation of affection is based on wrongful acts which deprive a married person of the affection of their spouse. It’s very important that you consult with your lawyer about the legal requirements for making these claims.
In addition, you or your children may face possible harm from your spouse during your separation. You must live separate and apart for a year before you can file for divorce. During that time, your spouse could threaten you, violate custody agreements, or otherwise misbehave. You have legal options for relief during this time. These could include restraining orders against your spouse or the person he or she had an affair with, modifications to custody agreements, and more. Again, your lawyer is the best resource for information on your specific situation.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
If you are considering ending your marriage due to an affair, the team at New Direction Family Law is available today to answer your questions. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys are knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate professionals. We will help you understand your legal rights and work hard toward your best outcome. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.