my spouse is cheating

4 Steps to take when you find out your spouse is cheating

There is nothing easy about discovering that your spouse is cheating on you.  And there isn’t an easy fix to make the pain go away.  If you have children and large amounts of assets and/or debts, it becomes even more complicated.  Short story: Infidelity sucks. Now the question is, “my spouse is cheating on me so what do I do next?”

Not all affairs lead to a divorce.  If your goal is to put your marriage back together, then this article isn’t for you.  However, if you’ve recently discovered that your spouse is stepping outside the marriage, and you have no intention of staying with him or her, then keep reading.  We can help.

First step: Keep quiet until your suspicions are confirmed.  I know what you’re thinking: “Why should I keep my mouth shut when that SOB is cheating on me?!”.  But think about it… if your spouse is cheating on you, don’t you want to gather as much evidence and information as possible before confronting them?  It would be quite embarrassing to accuse your spouse of cheating and then find out that you were mistaken.  The more important reason is that once you confront your spouse their first instinct may be to delete and dispose of all evidence that confirms the affair.  Your divorce attorney does not want this to happen.  If you are in a marriage where one of you may either receive or pay alimony, evidence of an affair can have an impact on your case.  Depending on how long you can keep the secret, consider hiring a private investigator.  If you are on the same phone plan as your spouse, check the phone records.  Are there numbers that your spouse calls or texts late at night?  Does one number show up frequently?  Find out who those numbers belong too.  Google is a magical place.  If your spouse is careless enough to post about the affair on social media, take screenshots and save them in 2 different locations.  In fact, you should have a hard copy of all evidence you gather and a copy saved on a flash drive. 

Second step:  Protect yourself.  Once your suspicions are confirmed there are a few things you need to do before you confront your spouse.  Change your passwords to email accounts, smartphones, bank accounts, etc.  Change your security questions to retrieve forgotten passwords and make sure the answer is something your spouse would never guess.  Open your own bank account.  Gather important financial documents that may be hard to find once your spouse knows you plan on initiating the divorce process.  If you are worried that your spouse may run off with your children, make sure their passports are in a safe place.  Think about scheduling a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.  They will provide you with endless sources of information about how to proceed.  Lock down your social media accounts.  Facebook is the wrong place to announce a separation and/or divorce.  Not only is it tacky, but social media is a gold mine for attorneys.  You don’t want to look like the bad girl/guy.    

Third step:  It’s time to sit down with your spouse and have that dreaded conversation.  It’s going to be hard and it’s going to be emotional.  But if you’ve made up your mind that your marriage is over, this is arguably the most necessary step.  Do not get sidetracked during this conversation.  Do not let your spouse play mind games and try to trick you into believing the affair is your fault.  Stay strong and stay focused.  Make sure that a close friend or family member is aware of the situation and knows that you are about to confront your spouse.  If you are unsure of how your spouse will react, consider having the conversation in a public place such as a park.  If you feel comfortable having the conversation in your home, make sure that your children are somewhere else.  Do not give your spouse the option of changing your mind.

Fourth step: Make a plan.  What happens next? Is someone going to move out of the house? Do we go to court?  Now is the time to consult with an attorney if you haven’t done so already.  Create a list of questions before you meet with the attorney.  Bring financial documents with you to the consult.  If you are unsure what to bring, ask the firm to provide you with a list.  Attorneys prefer that prospective clients bring their documents to consults.  During your consult, be specific about your goals and stay open-minded.  If your preference is to settle the divorce without going to court, then choose an attorney who focuses their practice on mediation and collaborative law.   However, don’t feel obligated to go the mediation route if you think it’s a waste of time.  Trust your instincts.  Every family situation is different.  Whatever decision you choose, just make sure that you and your attorney are compatible.

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Chelsea Chapman
Associate Attorney
When she isn’t practicing law, Chelsea is practicing yoga and spending time with her friends. She enjoys reading, attempting to cook, and watching Jeopardy. Chelsea loves to travel and is always searching for her next adventure.

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