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What should I do if my husband is having an affair?

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If you are married, an affair can be particularly devastating. Sadly, infidelity in relationships is all too common with one in five British adults admitting to having had an affair. If you believe your husband has had an affair or they have admitted as much, then you need to consider your next steps very carefully.

In this blog, we cover some of the key issues around adultery in divorce, including your legal rights following an affair, the issue of proof, the impact on divorce settlements, practical steps you can take after an affair and whether you have the right to compensation.

It should be noted that this blog is not intended as legal advice and is for educational purposes only. Should you wish to discuss your specific situation, our divorce and separation solicitors will be happy to answer any queries you may have.

For expert help with divorce and separation, please call one of our offices in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby, or simply fill out our enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

My husband is having an affair – what are my legal rights?

If you believe your husband has committed adultery, then ‘What are my rights?’ is a perfectly natural question.

The first thing to note is that, as hurtful as it might be, adultery is not a legal issue and does not affect your legal rights or those of your spouse. You may have heard about “divorce on grounds of adultery” because, in the past, adultery could be used as a reason for divorce. However, the law has changed in recent years and there is no longer any requirement to give a reason for the end of your marriage.

If you choose to divorce your husband, then all you will need to do when applying for a divorce is make a ‘statement of irretrievable breakdown’ i.e. affirming that the relationship cannot be saved. The fact your husband was unfaithful will play no role in the legal side of divorce proceedings.

How can I prove my husband cheated?

While it can be tempting to want objective proof if you believe your husband is having an affair, there is no legal requirement for this as part of a divorce or separation. As stated above, it is no longer a requirement to prove adultery or any other reason to be granted a divorce.

Does having an affair affect a divorce settlement?

One spouse having an affair will have no direct impact on a divorce settlement. If a court is required to decide on the division of finances, then either party’s infidelity will not be considered. Instead, the decision will be made based on factors such as the spouses’ combined assets and income, their financial needs, the needs of any children, the length of the marriage and any non-financial contributions either spouse made to the marriage.

However, there is a way in which one spouse having an affair might impact your divorce settlement. The reality is that most people will negotiate a settlement rather than going to court for one. If your spouse did have an affair and they feel guilty about it, then may be more willing to accept a settlement in your favour. However, any settlement still needs to be fair to both parties as you will need to have a court review it and issue a Consent Order for the settlement to be legally binding.

My husband had an affair – what are my options?

If you believe your husband has had an affair or is having an affair, then you need to carefully consider what you want to happen. Broadly, there are three options:

1.Stay with your husband and work through the issue

If you believe your marriage is worth saving and your husband agrees, then you may decide to stay together and try to get past what has happened. Marriage counselling can be a very good option in these situations to help understand why cheating occurred and what you can do to save your relationship.

Should you decide to stay in the marriage, you may wish to consider making a post-nuptial agreement. This is a legal agreement between you and your spouse that sets out how your assets would be divided if you later divorce. Having a post-nuptial agreement in place can provide peace of mind and security against the risk of financial hardship if your relationship cannot be saved.

2.Divorce your husband

In many cases, adultery and divorce go hand in hand as an affair will mean the end of a marriage. If you decide that this is the only option, it is important to get legal advice as soon as possible. An experienced family lawyer will be able to explain the divorce process, as well as your legal rights. Knowing exactly what to expect before starting divorce proceedings can make the process much simpler and less stressful for you.

As covered above, you do not need to give a reason for the divorce, beyond the “irretrievable breakdown” of your relationship. It is also worth noting that your husband cannot block the divorce, except in extremely limited circumstances where the English and Welsh courts do not have the jurisdiction to handle your divorce.

If you do divorce your husband, you will need to divide your finances and make arrangements for any children you have. Expert support can make this process more straightforward while protecting your interests and those of your loved ones. You may also wish to consider counselling to help with the impact of both your husband’s cheating and divorce.

3.Have a legal separation from your husband

If you are not ready to get divorced, or have religious or cultural reasons for not divorcing, then there is an alternative. A legal separation can allow you and your spouse to start living separate lives without legally ending your marriage.

If you wish to have a legal separation, you and your spouse should negotiate a separation agreement with the support of your respective lawyers. This can set out how your finances will be divided, giving you certainty and independence. If you later decide to divorce, this separation agreement could act as the basis for a financial settlement.

Can I sue my husband for adultery?

No, you cannot sue your spouse for adultery in England or Wales.

Get expert divorce advice in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby

For expert help with what to do if you have decided to separate from your spouse or apply for a divorce, please get in touch with a member of our team. We can also assist with any other questions or concerns you may have in relation to divorce and separation.

We have offices in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby working with clients across Coventry and Warwickshire, the West Midlands, Oxfordshire and nationwide.