- Infidelity, or “cheating,” is one of the most common reasons for divorce, and for the breakdown of relationships in general. An extra-marital affair is not only a serious betrayal of trust and a violation of the social boundaries of marriage, it is difficult to recover the relationship damaged by it.
Colorado practices “no-fault” divorce, meaning that misconduct or fault by one spouse (such as adultery) is not considered when deciding whether to grant a divorce, how property is divided, or whether alimony will be awarded. The only true grounds for divorce in Colorado is “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage, which simply means that the spouses involved believe their situation to be irreconcilable.
However, cheating may be considered by the court for other reasons than whether to grant the divorce—specifically, it may have bearing on child custody. This guide is intended to help you understand what cheating means for your marriage, divorce, and child custody from a legal perspective.
First thing’s first: judges in Colorado cannot consider adultery, or any behavior that other states consider to be “misconduct,” when making a decision about whether to allow the divorce, or to grant permanent or temporary alimony. The amount and duration of alimony is also not affected by a cheating spouse.
Most of the time, the first awareness that your partner is cheating, or contemplating cheating, comes as an uneasy feeling, nothing more. This subconscious awareness leads to curiosity; perhaps you couldn’t see your partner doing something like this to you, but you nonetheless begin to wonder: is it possible my partner is cheating on me? You notice changes in their behavior, and they spend long periods of time away. Then you find something—a message on their phone, for example—that fuels, if not validates, your growing concerns. You may want to confront your partner, but you should use caution, at least at first.
Many who cheat are skilled manipulators. It is common for cheaters to go to great lengths to cover their tracks, as well. This is why, if you suspect your spouse of cheating on you, you should not confront them until you have gathered as much evidence as possible and formed a plan for what you’ll do next. Collecting evidence takes time—time that you’ll probably spend in an uncomfortable situation. It can be difficult, but having the patience and restraint to gather evidence will pay off for you later.
Signs of Infidelity
One of the first signs of infidelity is a sudden and noticeable change in everyday habits. Personalities are different, and couples are unique. Besides the typical and obvious signs (such as catching the cheating partner in the act), there are a few things that often appear when a person is cheating:
1. Sudden, powerful interest in appearance and sex appeal.
2. Less interest in affection and sexuality with their partner (you).
3. Suddenly more private and withdrawn; you may no longer have access to things you did before, such as your partner’s cell phone.
4. Separates time, communication devices, or assets (i.e. creates another bank account) with a weak or nonexistent explanation.
5. Spends an unusual amount of time at work, with friends, or “errands.”
If one or more of the behaviors listed above is being displayed by your spouse, then it’s possible you’re not crazy. However, without evidence, nothing is confirmed; your spouse could be innocent, and accusing an innocent person of cheating can also harm your relationship. And even if they are guilty, confronting them without evidence may backfire. When they see that you are suspicious, but you have no concrete evidence, they could just deny everything and then destroy whatever evidence they can find.
Meet With an Attorney
Before doing anything else, it’s a good idea to talk to a divorce lawyer—your conversation will be entirely confidential, and the attorney can serve as a good source of advice on what evidence will help your case going forward. An attorney will also help you formulate a plan to confront your cheating spouse.
Ask your attorney to refer a private investigator they trust (and is within your budget). Many investigators specialize in adultery investigation, and this comes with skills such as surveillance and evidence gathering. This could save you months, if not more, especially when dealing with a careful and meticulous spouse.
The only way to prove, once and for all, whether your suspicions are justified is to acquire evidence. If a professional private investigator doesn’t find evidence that your spouse is cheating, then they probably aren’t.
Where it Matters: Child Custody
While Colorado’s courts tend to take a neutral position toward “misconduct” in all matters involving divorce, they likely will consider adultery to be relevant when deciding child custody. There are several reasons for this.
Infidelity can be as damaging to children as it is to the spouse who was cheated on. Cheating constitutes a real betrayal of one’s family, and there is simply no way around that. A child who otherwise respects and loves their parent is easily traumatized by such flagrant and selfish behavior.
Many cheaters attempt to introduce their children to the person they cheated with, or may not even care that the children are around when having a sexual rendezvous with that person. This is confusing at best for a child, and depending on their age, can cause serious psychological harm.
Thus, when examining both parents’ lives to determine the custody situation, the court takes cheating seriously. Well-hidden infidelity may not affect child custody arrangements, however, which is why collecting evidence is so important—by presenting evidence of infidelity to the court when discussing child custody, you will not only give them a clearer picture of what kind of person your cheating spouse is, you will also demonstrate your own restraint, wherewithal, and prioritization abilities, which will go a long way for your case.
Get a Trustworthy Colorado Divorce Attorney
Cheating doesn’t have to mean divorce, but it most likely will. It is a hard situation to be in: even just suspecting infidelity carries highly negative emotions into your life. Our advice is to do your best to face the truth and deal with your situation honestly. Carefully separate, if you can, what you know from what you fear, and before taking any action, think about the possible consequences as thoroughly as possible.
If you believe divorce to be the only foreseeable outcome, Robinson & Henry can help you through this difficult process. Infidelity often makes a divorce much, much worse, and having an experienced and understanding lawyer makes a huge difference.
On that note, if you do suspect your spouse of infidelity, and you are contemplating a divorce anyway, do not represent yourself! An impartial legal representative is absolutely necessary when dealing with the often extreme emotions involved in these situations. A lawyer will help you do what’s necessary to protect your assets, your time, and your children from a bad or disadvantageous divorce.
Call us at 303-688-0944 for a free one-hour consultation, and find out how we can help you get through this difficult time.