By now most everyone in Alabama, from Montgomery County to Mobile and all around the state, has heard the news of Elizabeth and John Edwards' separation following the husband's not-so-secret affair that destroyed the couple's marriage of 32 years. Elizabeth Edwards announced that she is separated from the former presidential hopeful and plans to move on with her life by putting such a difficult and hurtful event behind her. Can divorce be far behind for these two?
As a Birmingham divorce lawyer and family law attorney, this kind of scenario plays out across Alabama every year, so it's no surprise that even the rich and famous get caught in the infidelity game more often than not. As for Edwards, her story is doubly sad due to her previous diagnosis of stage four breast cancer. Whatever the circumstances, the cheating spouse usually makes a mistake along the way that exposes him or her to the light of day.
On more than one occasion, I myself have been asked by potential clients what they should do if and when they suspect their spouse is cheating. There are a couple things that someone can do when contemplating a divorce of a spouse who might be having an affair on the side.
For starters, one must definitely think about retaining a private investigator to do some research into suspicious activities. In Alabama, having proof that a spouse has been cheating may have a direct affect on the property settlement in a divorce case. Fault grounds can also affect the amount of alimony the court grants to the injured party.
Furthermore, depending on whether the couple has children who were affected by the offending spouse's conduct, this too may influence the court's determination when it comes to custody of the kids.
A second and equally important step would be to have yourself tested for any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). While this can be a difficult thing to face, it is very important for your own well-being and peace of mind. The sooner you find out if you have contracted an STD, the sooner you can be treated if necessary.
If you have been diagnosed with an STD, this can also significantly affect the direction fo the divorce proceedings and may be the basis of additional legal claims against the offending spouse. An experienced divorce and family law attorney is invaluable in any legal separation or divorce action and will be able to advise you on this and other issues connected with your case.
How He Got Caught, Slate.com, January 29, 2010