Affairs are one of the leading reasons sited for divorce. And while traditional divorce attorneys often tell clients that affairs are not appropriate cases for collaboration, the opposite is actually true. (In fact, a quick poll of the attorneys on this blog roll would confirm that most of their cases involve affairs.)
Whether you’re the spouse who’s discovered the affair, or you’re the one who is having it, Collaboration can create a better outcome than giving up control to the courts – healthier for children, more private, and more financially beneficial.
Now, If your spouse had the affair, you may be thinking, perhaps even justifiably, “I want him/her to suffer. I want their paramour to be scared or embarrassed by a subpoena – serves them both right!”
While these emotions are natural, acting on them is dangerous and just plain bad business. Unfortunately, there are attorneys who fuel this bitterness and acrimony. And by stoking adversarial fires, they can actually protract the proceedings. Guess who “wins” then.
Traditional divorce involving a workplace affair is especially problematic. If the boss finds out, your spouse could be fired! And if that spouse is a substantial or even sole source of income, everyone loses.
Worse, sometimes having an affair with a colleague could give rise to a lawsuit for sexual harassment. Community dollars that you could get in the divorce settlement would be spent on lawyers defending a sexual harassment suit or more likely, paying off the paramour. (Yes, it happens!)
Yet there are adversarial lawyers who pursue workplace affair cases for “stay at home moms,” knowing that litigation may be jeopardizing the couple’s only significant asset – the husband’s job and/or career.
Collaborative Divorce works best for affairs because:
1. It protects all parties’ privacy. No matter which side you’re on, you want privacy. Collaborative divorce is a confidential process. No court, no hearings, no deposition of your boyfriend reciting all the sordid details, no girlfriend being cross-examined on the stand at your trial. No public statements from the cheating spouse about why they “needed to look outside the marriage…” Privacy is your friend. Collaborative Divorce is the only real way to assure it.
2. Legal costs can be lessened. In the collaborative process, the affair is dealt with mainly by the mental health professional. If one or both spouses desire, the mental health professional can meet with them individually and/or together outside the purview of the lawyer. This can dramatically decrease legal costs.
3. It keeps the control where it belongs – with the clients, not the courts. You can reach your goals with more dignity and more efficiently than litigation could ever provide.
Sometimes, despite an affair, a couple actually reconciles during Collaboration. Given the confidential and non-blaming nature of the process, this makes sense. The opportunity is there and has not been destroyed by aggressive, alienating actions often taken in a traditional divorce case.
That’s the benefit of Collaborative Divorce in every case – less damage, more dignity. And that’s something all divorcing couples can use help with, especially in the case of an affair.