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May 2008

Divorce, Affairs, Cheating and Rhode Island Law

Question:  I had an affair before I filed for divorce.  If the judge finds out about the divorce what might happen?

Answer:  Divorce may be based upon irreconcilable differences or may be fault-based under Rhode Island Law.  A divorce case may be filed based upon adultery.  Thus, an affair may play a part in your divorce proceeding.  However, the role the affair may play in your divorce will be directly related to the circumstances and the timing of the affair. 

Consider these two diverse examples:

Example No. 1 - John & Tina

John and Tina have been married for 20 years and have two children. The second child turns 19 and goes off to college.  Unbeknownst to Tina, John has been unhappy for hears and has considered divorcing her for years because they have had virtually no relationship.  However, before John files for divorce he gets a promotion at his job and meets a woman who makes him feel alive again.  He begins to see this woman for two months and then files for divorce and immediately moves out of the house.

In this instance, what role does the affair play?  If Tina discovers that the infidelity began two months before John filed for divorce she might assume that this "other woman" and this "affair" are the cause of the marital breakdown and file a counterclaim for divorce alleging infidelity.  If Tina insists on going forward with the counterclaim for divorce based on adultery, it is possible that her counterclaim will be denied if the family court judge hears John testify that he was unhappy for years and merely stayed together for the sake of their children and it was only by fate that he ran into a woman who made him feel alive again.  If the judge believes John and believes that divorce was inevitable, then Tina should not prevail on her claim of adultery because Tina has not shown the affair was the actual cause of the breakdown of the marriage.

Example No. 2 - Bill & Sheila

Bill and Sheila have been married for five (5) years.  Sheila has been relatively happy with Bill.  He is a good provider, he takes care of her, he talks with her and listens when she needs his ear.  Bill is very supportive of Sheila and encourages her to participate in whatever activities she might like.  Sheila decides to take exercise classes and Bill pays for them.  Sheila ends up with a rather muscular and attractive trainer for her classes.  After working with her personally in the first class Sheila is all excited for her next class.  After her next class Sheila asks her trainer to go out with her for coffee and over the next few hours Sheila entices her trainer to a nearby hotel where they have intercourse.  Sheila begins to become distant to Bill. Bill notices it and continually tries to respond to Sheila's needs. Bill showers Sheila with gifts, takes her on a romantic 10 day cruise, takes her out to dinner more frequently and sends her flowers each month.  Sheila explains that her favorite activity is her exercise class  so Bill continues to pay for it.  Bill After each class Sheila meets her trainer at a different local hotel or motel and continues her affair.  Bill eventually discovers the affair about 14 months into the relationship.  Bill is crushed and files for divorce based on adultery.

In this case Bill's claim based on adultery may be granted because the marital breakdown can be directly related to Sheila's affair with her trainer.

In either case, the family court judge is allowed to consider the conduct of the parties in the equitable distribution of the marital estate, both the debts and the assets. 

In Example No. 1, unless John spent a considerable amount of money or gave his new girlfriend substantial assets or signed a loan for her and incurred more debt in his name, a family court judge is likely to conclude that John's conduct was not the cause of the marital breakdown and that it had little or no effect on the marital estate and therefore John's conduct will make little or no difference in the way the court will distribute the marital estate.

In Example No. 2, Sheila's deception may be shown to be the cause of the marital breakdown and as a result of the deception and Sheila's change in attitude toward Bill, Bill was deceived into believing that he was the cause of the problem or that he could rectify whatever the problem was between him and his wife.  A judge might well find that Sheila's deception caused Bill to spend thousands of dollars in marital assets and incur thousands of dollars in marital debt in order to please Sheila.  In the very least Sheila deceived Bill into paying for her classes and facilitating her affair.

If you assume in Example No. 2 that Bill spent $18,000 in that 14 month period for the classes, trip, flowers, etc... believing that he could repair the unknown rift in his marriage with his wife, the court may hold Sheila responsible for $18,000 more of the marital debt or divest Sheila of $18,000 in marital assets to make up for the damage her deception caused to the marital estate.

As you can see, in either example the idea is not to punish a party for their infidelity, but rather to determine if the infidelity was the cause of the marital breakdown and whether the infidelity caused any financial impact to the marital estate (ie. the debts and assets of the parties).

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

CALL (401) 354-2369 now to schedule for your low-cost, no obligation legal consultation!

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is based on Rhode Island and is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.

Copyright 2008 - Christopher A. Pearsall and Pearsall Law Associates (All Rights Reserved.)

Attorney Christopher Pearsall and Divorce goes 100% Virtual!

It's no secret that Rhode Island Divorce Lawyers and attorneys in real estate and many other fields have been hit by the recession.  If you haven't been hit by it yet then count yourself lucky.  Companies are downsizing and businesses that have been around for 100 years and more are closing their doors.  Businesses of all sorts are finding ways to survive, stay in business, cut costs and remain profitable enough to remain viable in a horrible market. 

Money isn't in abundance and families are cutting back on luxuries and sticking to necessities.  It's not a wonder that more and more people are looking to technology to ease their financial burdens and automate everything they can to service customers and clients.

It is in the midst of our recession that I announce that I have decided to close my physical office in Cranston, Rhode Island and make a leap that I was hoping to postpone for six more months but practicality makes it more sensible to do so now.

Beginning on June 9, 2008 my physical office will close and my virtual office will open.  What does this mean new or existing clients?  It means tremendous savings.  By closing my physical office I will have completed my transition into a new age for attorneys and the practice of divorce law. 

By closing the physical office in Cranston I will be passing along the savings that results from eliminating my overhead costs to my clients.

I believe that to my knowledge that I will be the first Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer in Rhode Island to go 100% virtual and almost 100% digital.

By harnessing the power of computers and the internet I have been able to address filing and storage issues and costs as well as servicing clients more quickly and efficiently if they have a computer or access to a relative or friend or even a public library computer.  This enables clients to be informed more quickly than ever before and eliminates postage costs.  Clients will get quicker responses, see faster results and know what is going on with their case more readily than they would waiting to a typical attorney to return their call.  Of course I will certainly still be talking to clients by telephone since serving my clients is a personal thing and should never be reduced to just impersonal emails.

Though the transition to its completion may take another six (6) months to address issues that may arise, the savings will be noticed by clients immediately.

I am extremely excited to be making this move especially at a time when Rhode Islanders need it most.  I have literally become a divorce and family law attorney designed for Rhode Islanders and those who go before the Rhode Island Family Court to be able to address your divorce and family law issues during this recession at half the cost of a typical full-time experienced divorce practitioner.

Feel free to take advantage of the savings I can offer you while also increasing speed and efficiency.

I'm the Attorney for the New Millennium.

I can just about make a computer dance. 

Imagine what I might be able to do for you in court.

Call for your low-cost consultation.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.