Will Infidelity Cost You… Financially?

Contributed by LearnVest

Every time we turn around, a high-profile couple is splitting up as a result of cheating accusations (ahem, Tiger Woods and Jesse James), yet there are reports that infidelity rates are actually dropping. Although the official stats speak to couples staying together because of the economy—divorce is expensive—Bernard Clair, a prominent Manhattan divorce lawyer, hasn’t noticed a decrease in cheating on the ground floor. This issue is difficult and emotional, but, as much as we hope that you never experience it firsthand, we want you to go in with open eyes. So, we ask, how much can an affair cost a person?

The Price Of Divorce.

If cheating breaks up a marriage, both parties will pay—emotionally and economically. It is impossible to calculate how much you’ll spend on a divorce, explains Marlene Eskind Moses, President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. An uncontested divorce could put you out less than $1,000, whereas a case that goes on for years can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars; Clair doesn’t think it’s possible to get out of a sticky custody case for less than $75,000, and, in some urban areas, more like double that. Divorces get especially complicated when there are issues of custody, debt allocation, retirement funds, health and life insurance, or a huge divergence in income opportunities and assets. Costs include legal fees, hiring financial experts to assess the value of assets, court costs, and more. Clair often tells his clients that they’re “throwing away [their] children’s college fund, so think twice.”

Cheating Can Unofficially Impact The Outcome Of A Divorce.

Eskind Moses says that fear or remorse over an indiscretion (such as your spouse’s worry that he might expose his lover publicly) can be a motivator for a better settlement. But, this often has a limited impact on the courtroom: “While the marriage is falling apart, you can get a lot further with the guilt that the spouses are feeling than you can by turning it into a big court battle, because by the time they get to court they don’t feel guilty anymore.”

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