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My spouse had an affair: will Wisconsin mediation still work for us?

My spouse had an affair: will Wisconsin mediation still work for us?

  • Marriages can end for a variety of reasons, but few are more hurtful and destructive than infidelity. For the injured spouse, finding out about the affair can feel like everything they believed about their partner was a lie. This kind of betrayal can be devastating and often leads to divorce. Emotions can run high when a spouse has been unfaithful, making it difficult to determine whether attempting mediation during divorce is realistic. Someone in this situation may be thinking, my spouse had an affair: Will Wisconsin mediation still work for us?

 

Wisconsin Divorce Mediation

  • In Wisconsin, divorcing parties can use Divorce Mediation to settle some or all of the issues in their case. In some instances, such as when parents disagree about legal custody of their children, Divorce Mediation will be required.
  • The process involves a trained Mediator working with both parties to facilitate settlement. The Mediator will work equally with each side and their attorneys to determine where the parties disagree and the available options for resolving their issues. Mediation is non-binding, meaning that neither side is required to settle during the process. However, by using Divorce Mediation, parties are often able to develop workable settlement terms. When they are willing to use the process, parties may be able to settle on their disputed issues and end their cases sooner than if they chose to go through a final court hearing.

 

Adultery and Wisconsin Divorce

  • Wisconsin law is a no-fault divorce state meaning that the court will not consider adultery or a responsibility-based reason as a ground for divorce. However, that does not necessarily mean that the court will ignore infidelity altogether.  
  • During a divorce where a spouse has committed adultery, a Wisconsin court may consider how the spouse’s affair impacted the couple’s community assets and the well-being of their minor children. If, for instance, the unfaithful spouse bought lavish gifts for their affair partner or paid for their living expenses with marital funds, there could be an argument that the injured spouse should receive more community property during the divorce. Additionally, if the spouse's adulterous conduct harmed the couple's children, the court may determine it is in the kids' best interests to limit the unfaithful parent’s child placement.

 

Your Willingness to Mediate

  • If your spouse had an affair, you may be so angry and hurt that it's hard to imagine negotiating and settling with them on anything during your divorce. You may also feel that what is happening to you is not your fault and that submitting to mediation would just be making things easier for your ex. While these feelings may be understandable, it's vital that you not let them control your decision-making during your divorce.
  • It’s crucial to remember that your choices during your divorce may impact you for years to come. Therefore, you need to consider who you may be hurting by refusing to mediate. Ultimately, going to court to fight over issues that could be negotiated during Divorce Mediation may end up being more stressful for you and your kids as well as your ex. You may also incur more legal fees than necessary. Dragging the case out and amassing unnecessary legal fees can't change what has happened, but it can make it harder to recover financially and emotionally after the case ends.

 

Recognizing that Divorce is Not About Justice

  • During your divorce, you and your ex will divide your assets and, if applicable, determine legal custody of and a placement schedule for your minor children and the amount needed for their support. You may also be deciding on the appropriateness of spousal maintenance. Wisconsin law is focused on creating equity between the parties and making decisions that are in the best interests of children during divorce. In the end, that may mean splitting your assets in a relatively equal way and sharing joint custody and placement time with your kids.
  • Depending on the circumstances, you may feel that your unfaithful ex should have to pay dearly for the financial and emotional consequences of their affair. As you make decisions, consider what is motivating your actions. Do you expect to get justice? No matter how you decide to handle your case, the results are not likely to bring you a sense of fairness. Even if you were to get more property or slightly more custodial rights or placement time, these results wouldn't necessarily make you feel like you and your ex are even.
  • It can be challenging to remain objective during divorce, especially when you have strong feelings regarding your ex's extramarital affair. In this situation, having an experienced Wisconsin family law attorney to help you work through your case issues is essential. In addition, your counsel can help you understand the decisions you need to make during your Wisconsin divorce case and explain your settlement options.

 

Contact an Experienced Wisconsin Divorce Attorney

  • Wisconsin Attorney and Mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has extensive experience assisting clients before, during, and after divorce and can help you determine your next steps. She understands the issues that can arise during divorce when a spouse has had an affair and can help. If you have a divorce case in the greater Milwaukee area, please contact us to schedule a consultation.