186 - Adultery's Impact On Divorce
From a financial and emotion standpoint, adultery has a huge impact on a divorce. But, adultery does not always have the same kind of impact on the divorce as people might expect (or hope for). In this show, Leh and Todd explore adultery's impact on divorce in the areas of alimony, child support, child custody, and equitable division of property.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome everyone, I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. Here you will learn about divorce, family law, and from time to time, even tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. Todd.
Todd Orston: Leh.
Leh Meriwether: We got a good show today.
Todd Orston: I'm going to have to trust you on that one. I'm not doubting you.
Leh Meriwether: It's one of those juicy shows.
Todd Orston: Before we get started, I need to tell you something. I've been seeing another podcaster. I'm only kidding. No.
Leh Meriwether: [crosstalk 00:00:54].
Todd Orston: I've been recording with another podcaster. No. That does lead us, I believe, into the topic of the show, which is not a joking matter.
Leh Meriwether: No.
Todd Orston: What is the topic of the show?
Leh Meriwether: Adultery's impact on divorce.
Todd Orston: Yeah, right.
Leh Meriwether: It is something that is extremely emotional, extremely painful if you've been the victim of adultery. It's one of those subjects that we get asked about all the time. A lot of times, we have to be the reality check. Sometimes it's very hard to deliver the legal advice that needs to be delivered in the middle of the pain that someone's experiencing.
Todd Orston: Yeah. be more clear, sometimes, unfortunately, people believe that evidence of adultery will have a bigger impact on a case than it actually will. That does not mean that, let's say, we, as your attorneys aren't going to fight for you, doesn't mean we are going to bring up that behavior. What we are saying is that we have seen countless cases from beginning, through, from beginning to end. The actual impact of that evidence of adultery on the case oftentimes is very small, if there is any impact.
Todd Orston: We have to tell people that. Because a lot of people step into these cases and they've been wronged and they're like, oop, I've got the evidence, I've got witnesses, I've got pictures, I've got whatever. We've, at this point in our career, seen just about everything. We have to look and go, that's terrible, that's horrible. Emotionally, I can't even imagine what you're going through. The actual impact and effect on your case, it may not actually move the needle much, it may not really impact anything we're going to have to deal with in your divorce.
Leh Meriwether: Let's start with every state is different. In Georgia, adultery has a larger impact than, say, Florida, which Florida is strictly a no fault state. In Georgia, there's in the statute it says the basis for divorce can be adultery. Florida doesn't say that. The impact of adultery is almost nothing in a divorce case in Florida. There are exceptions to the rule, but I'm just giving you the general rule, that it has almost no impact on a divorce. Or like I said, there may be exceptions out there, but I'm just speaking in general.
Leh Meriwether: In Georgia, it's very dependent on the fact pattern and the judge. We'll break that down. We're going to talk about six different elements of adultery's impact on a divorce. There's a four-core areas of divorce, equitable division, dividing up your assets and liabilities, child custody, child support, alimony. Then we're also going to talk about the emotional impact of adultery on a divorce and the financial impact of adultery on divorce. We're going to get into those six different things. We're going to talk about the general rule. We will give some exceptions to those general rules.
Leh Meriwether: The reason we're sharing this is so that you're ready. If you have been the victim of adultery or you have actually committed adultery, the information this show will have is going to be very helpful to both of those people. Are you ready?
Todd Orston: Yeah. Now you're going to ask five minutes into the show? What if I say no?
Leh Meriwether: It's tough.
Todd Orston: Too late. Before we get started, let's talk more generally. Because I know we're going to get into the six subcategories and talk about the impact of adultery on them. Generally speaking, we hinted at this and I'm going to be more clear, as wrong as adultery is, and trust me, I mean, I absolutely believe you shouldn't do that. If you're not happy in the relationship, don't cheat, just move on. Get a divorce. Move on to another relationship, but at least be honest with your partner.
Leh Meriwether: After the divorce.
Todd Orston: Right. Yeah, absolutely. That's correct. I say that, and as painful as it is for you, you have to understand, you're going in front of judges who have seen and heard everything. They hear about adultery more often than then they should. Unfortunately, I believe, and that's where I think, Leh, you are getting into this where it depends on the judge. Unfortunately, sometimes they're numb to it. Just as if I saw a gunshot wound, I would freak out, but an emergency room doctor is like, oh, been here, done that, this is my job, and I'm going to do my job.
Todd Orston: Well, judges are doing their jobs. They've heard the stories. At the end of the day, we've even heard judges say that, it can have an impact, but oftentimes the solution there is I'm going to give you the divorce you're seeking. I understand there's some catharsis, and we were talking about this offline. There is some catharsis. Sometimes people just want to have their day in court so they can tell their story, but that carries a cost. Again, there may not be a benefit, meaning some kind of a financial or other benefit, simply because you have proven that the adultery occurred.
Leh Meriwether: We're focusing on Georgia, because there are some states where it's pretty much in the statute that adultery is not a factor.
Todd Orston: Right. Let's be clear also. Georgia, you can bring a divorce on the ground of adultery. You can also not bring the divorce on the ground of adultery and bring up evidence of adultery as it can potentially impact some of the four-core issues that you're dealing with in your divorce. By bringing it as a ground, it means you want the divorce order to state that the court is issuing this divorce or granting rather this divorce on the ground that this party committed adultery and it broke up the marriage.
Todd Orston: All that's doing is creating more evidentiary requirements that you need to now prove, definitively prove that the adultery occurred in order for the judge to issue a divorce based on that ground as opposed to the general ground of that the marriage is irretrievably broken. What I often tell people is the story, the evidence relating to adultery, that's going to come up. Because even if we're asking for a divorce on the ground that the marriage is irretrievably broken, there's still going to be some relevant evidence that applies to some of these four-core issues that we've been talking about.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. While it may be in the statute, there is also the practical impact of the adultery. You have the legal impact and the other practical impact. I think we are focusing, when we talk about Georgia, on the practical impact of adultery and divorce. That's what everyone needs to understand. Yes, it's in the law. Yes, you can go after this, but it's probably not worth it in most scenarios. We'll break down the scenarios where it may be worth it.
Leh Meriwether: The most important thing is to sit down and have a serious analysis of your set of facts with your attorney in light of the judge you're in front of, at least here in Georgia. Because there are some judges that feel ... I don't know if I could say, they're less desensitized than others. Some judges have a stronger feeling about the impact of adultery than others. I'll just leave it at that.
Todd Orston: Yeah. It really is going to come down to having a very open and honest conversation with your attorney and asking the right questions. Because there are some attorneys who will be like, "Oh, you have that evidence of adultery? Absolutely. We'll bring it on this ground. We'll bring this to the court's attention. Alright." That's not the point. Telling your story is ... Again, it's cathartic. That's going to help you because the world ... Not the world, but people will now hear the truth. They will understand how you were wronged. That could help you heal, I get that.
Todd Orston: You need to be ready to ask questions of your attorney. Okay, if we bring this up and make it absolutely a focal point in the case, how is it going to benefit me? If you break it down into the four-core, so you're saying you want to bring these things up right away and just start hammering on the adultery? Okay, that's fine. Is that going to get me more alimony? Is that going to get me more child support? Is it going to prohibit or limit the amount of time the other party spends with the children? Is it going to give me a bigger portion of the estate?
Todd Orston: What are the chances of those things happening? If your attorney is like, "Oh, it's a guarantee if we prove it," well, I think you need to get a second opinion. If they're honest and they're like, "Well, it may not impact very greatly, very much," then obviously, you need to figure out what your strategy should be in terms of the divorce as a whole.
Leh Meriwether: When we come back, we're going to talk about the impact of adultery on equitable division. We'll also give some examples of when there might be an exception to the general rule. I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 a.m. on Monday mornings on WSB. You can always check us out there as well.
Todd Orston: Better than like counting sheep, I guess, right?
Leh Meriwether: That's right.
Todd Orston: You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.
Leh Meriwether: There you go.
Todd Orston: I'll talk very softly.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Leh, and with me is Todd. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. If you want to get a transcript of this show as well as past episodes, you can go to divorceteamradio.com. Okay, we started with a general overview of adultery's impact on divorce here in Georgia. We gave examples also of how other states have even less impact.
Leh Meriwether: Let's start with equitable division, one of the four-core areas. There's four-core area, equitable division, child custody, child support, alimony. We're going to dive into all four of those, as well as two other areas of its impact emotional and financial. Let's start with equitable division. Todd, what kind of impact does adultery have on equitable division?
Todd Orston: Going back to your comment about it depends on the judge, too often, I've seen it have zero impact. That's because, again, sometimes judges who are more desensitized, I've heard the arguments, meaning I've heard in court where the stories are being told and the judge at the end is like, I get it, I understand, that was painful. You know what? You're going to get what you want, which is a divorce. Unfortunately, that person cheated, violated the trust, and you want the marriage to end, I'm going to give that to you.
Todd Orston: Then you look at the division of property and really, it had no impact on that. It's going to depend on the court, the judge that you're in front of. Where you have a better chance of getting some kind of a swing in terms of the division of the property is if you have evidence of improper spending on that paramour. If your spouse is having some kind of an affair and you can show that money, marital money has been spent on the boyfriend, girlfriend, then that absolutely, judges will absolutely accept that a lot faster than simply saying, okay, cheating equals a 10% hit on the division of property.
Todd Orston: You know what I'm saying? I'm just making up a number. As opposed to it's just, hey, evidence of adultery, and therefore I'm now going to give a bigger percentage to the other party simply because. If you can show that party has spent a whole bunch of money, then you might be able to get that from the judge. Meaning, look, judge, there was a $15,000 Rolex that my spouse bought for the boyfriend, girlfriend. Well, at that point, it's an easier argument to say, well, but for the cheating, there would be no boyfriend, girlfriend, the Rolex wouldn't have been bought, and therefore $15,000 would be in the marital estate. Therefore, I want that 15 back. That could cause a swing in terms of you getting compensated, you getting reimbursed for that expenditure.
Leh Meriwether: To be clear, the law does grant the judge in Georgia, keep that in mind, in Georgia, the ability to adjust equitable division based on adultery. It's in there. It doesn't have to say there has to be a financial impact, it just says adultery. Again, from the practical impact, the judges typically, if there's been some financial expenditure on the spouse, then there's an offset. If it's just like was a one-time affair or even if it was a long affair, but there was never money exchanged, they still tend to split it 50/50. In Georgia, we actually still have jury trials.
Leh Meriwether: It's one of two states that allows jury trials in divorces. I can give you a tale of two juries. Had a jury trial where the guy had ... Well, three real quick examples. Number one, guy actually had a whole separate family in Texas. There was $60,000 or $80,000 in silver bars that just ... I don't know where they are. Well, the jury really didn't like this guy. In the equitable division, they hammered him, hammered him. Our client got 80% of the marital estate, far more than the offset of the gold bars, because they felt like ... Just his overall behavior. They felt like he was lying.
Leh Meriwether: They got upset with him, basically, for lack of a better way of saying it. Because I know that people went up and talked to the jury afterwards and they're like, we just didn't like your guy so we just hammered. That can happen with a jury. Then same county, here's another jury trial where the husband cheated on the wife with his daughter's best friend. The guy is like 50, this girl is 20. Just the optic were terrible. Jury split everything 50/50. Another jury, guy was cheating on his wife with prostitutes. Well, he spent like $40,000 on prostitutes.
Leh Meriwether: We're not talking about he did it a few times. This was egregious. Gets into the front of the jury. Like you said earlier, Todd, he was apologetic. He was remorseful about the whole thing, her alcoholism came out during the course of the case. The jury, what they did was they gave the wife 40% off the top for him spending on the prostitutes and they split everything 50/50. The juries, you never know what you're going to get. A lot of times, juries are still at 50/50, unless there's something egregious, I mean, just absolutely egregious set of circumstances.
Todd Orston: Yeah. Jury trials, to be clear, are very uncommon. They are still permitted in Georgia, but it is a rarity. Most people don't want to go forward with a jury trial, because the cost associated, if you have legal representation of the cost associated with a jury trial, it's much higher than a bench trial. You have to prepare differently. The point is, sometimes people will say, well, I may be in front of a judge who isn't normally moved by evidence of adultery, and therefore I'm going to go ahead and present it to a whole bunch of people. This isn't what they do. Maybe they will be moved by that evidence. To your point, Leh, even then, maybe not, unfortunately, listen, it's unfortunate that our society is at a place where adultery is just all too commonplace, but it is.
Leh Meriwether: When we talk about juries, are they desensitized or, I mean, what's on TV? Like I remember ... I'll give this example of another case later on. Even juries at one point, what was it? Desperate Housewives. That was a very popular TV show. There was a lot of adulterous situations in that show. You watch a lot of things like daytime soap operas. It's nothing, but it seemed ... Well, sure. I never really watch those every time I [inaudible 00:18:42] show.
Todd Orston: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, right. Yeah, we believe you, Leh. People tell me, I read in a magazine somewhere.
Leh Meriwether: I think people have become desensitized the adultery issue, because they see it on television all the time or read about it in tabloids, that sort of thing.
Todd Orston: Well, and also, it's easy to be desensitized because it's not happening to you.
Leh Meriwether: Exactly.
Todd Orston: They see it on TV, they watch it in the movies, they read it in the books, it's out there, it's prevalent. When somebody tells the story, it's like, oh, that's terrible, but it's just like that character in that TV show and that movie. Then the minute it happens to them, it's like, oh, okay, now I get it. This is pretty horrible. It is horrible.
Leh Meriwether: The ...
Todd Orston: I'm not trying to judge. I'm just saying it is one of the ultimate betrayals of trust. Therefore, what I'm really getting at is, I understand the anger. I understand the frustration, the hurt, the pain. What we are now saying is, okay, you have to, to a point, push that to the side and try and look through very clear glasses and say, okay, I'm hurt. I am hurting. How is this going to impact the divorce? Because unless it's going to impact it greatly, then all you're doing is spending more time, money, and effort, and emotional expense on pushing the adultery issue rather than just trying to get through the divorce in as amicable way as possible.
Leh Meriwether: To be clear, the reason we're sharing this information is because we don't want a painful situation to become even more painful, because the divorce becomes more intense. That's why we're sharing this information. We're talking about the practical impact of adultery on your case. We don't want it to get worse for you. We don't want you to have some expectation that is not in line with what's really happening in the court.
Todd Orston: That's right. Equitable division, I can tell you right now, can it impact? Yes. Oftentimes, really, the angle needs to be or should be, if you're going to try and gain something, it's you need to show that there have been expenditures and you're really in essence, at that point, looking for reimbursement. Courts are much more open to that rather than just a pure financial punishment.
Leh Meriwether: In that point, then it becomes a cost benefit analysis. If you find out that that person ... We often see like a $2500 trip somewhere and they claimed it was a business trip, but it wasn't. Well, is it worth really chasing that? I mean, you could spend $5,000, $10,000 to prove the $2500 trip. In that case, if you do a cost benefit analysis, it's not in your best interest to spend that kind of money and emotional energy. When we come back, we're going to talk about its impact on child custody, child support, and alimony.
Todd Orston: Hey, everyone, you're listening to our podcast, but you have alternatives. You have choices. You can listen to us live also at 1:00 a.m. on Monday morning on WSB.
Leh Meriwether: If you're enjoying the show, we would love it if you could go rate us on iTunes or wherever you may be listening to it. Give us a five-star rating and tell us why you like the show. Welcome back. I'm Leh, and with me is Todd. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. You can read transcripts of this show and past shows at divorceteamradio.com. Ready, Todd?
Todd Orston: Always.
Leh Meriwether: Okay, great.
Todd Orston: Alright, we finished up equitable division and the impact of adultery on equitable division. Let's jump into the next one. You know what? Let's deal very quickly with child support. Leh, what impact can or does evidence of adultery have on child support calculations, at least here in Georgia?
Leh Meriwether: None. None.
Todd Orston: You want to give it some more thought? That was pretty quick. I mean, that was ...
Leh Meriwether: I'm not aware of a practical impact or there's no legal impact. That has nothing to do with the calculation. There's nothing in the statute that gives any basis. I'm not aware of any state. I'm not licensed in all 50 states, but I have never heard anything where adultery impacted child support anywhere.
Todd Orston: Yeah, I agree. There's only one possible way, and it's not even the adultery that is impacting. If the other party committed adultery, had a child, that mother or I'm assuming, just making an assumption for the example, takes the father to court and gets a child support order, then that becomes a qualified child that can be included in the child support calculation in the divorce case, which could then impact the amount of child support. That's really more the adultery is secondary to the fact that there's a child. It's a child born of the adultery, but it's not really the adultery.
Leh Meriwether: That is a good practical example. I've never seen it before, but I could see it happening. I've never had it personally. It doesn't really happen today, but I do ... In years past, Georgia had a different child support rules and it was like, and for one child, it was 17% to 20% of your gross income was your child support. Then it was 20% to 25% if it's two ... I don't remember the numbers because it was so long ago, we changed it. Back then, I actually did see an impact of adultery. It wasn't supposed to make it happen. I mean, supposed to be an impact.
Leh Meriwether: I saw some judges get mad at parties for the adultery and say, well, you know what? If it was a normal divorce, it would have been 17% of your income. Because of your adultery, I'm going to max it out the 20%. Because there was all this discretion the judges used to have. They still have discretion, but not nearly as much, in my opinion.
Todd Orston: Yeah, yeah. 17 to 23, 23 to 28, what was it? 25 to 32, I ... Anyway, you're right. I've never heard the judge actually say because of it, because I think ...
Leh Meriwether: Yup, I agree.
Todd Orston: ... that would open up to an appeal. Your point is spot on. The bottom line is, child support is not supposed to be punitive in nature. It is 150%. You need to support your children, what do they need. Now when courts had more discretion under the old law, absolutely. Normally, let's say, for one child, 17% to 23%, we pretty much just assumed, I mean, if ... Remember? We just assumed 20%. Middle of the road, that's where a court is going to land. Let's just negotiate that and it's 20%. You're right. Sometimes it would sway or swing rather in one direction or the other. Normally, you would hit that middle of the road. Again, it's not punitive in nature. For the most part, it really has no impact.
Leh Meriwether: Alright, let's go on to child custody. What kind of impact does adultery have on child custody?
Todd Orston: Evidence of adultery by itself, once again, is not really going to impact issues of custody, but the behavior, meaning not the fact of adultery, but if the adulterous behavior can or has had some kind of a negative impact on children, and I'm not talking about the emotional like it caused the divorce, and therefore that's ... Of course, yeah, that affects the children. Indirectly, the adultery is affecting the children. I'm saying, the person is bringing that girlfriend, boyfriend around the kids immediately introducing, hey, this is Bambi and call her mom. It's like that kind of stuff.
Todd Orston: By the way, my wife's family knows several Bambis. I'm sorry that I chose Bambi as ... I was thinking of a deer. That's all. Anyway, that was improper. I like Bambi. In my history, unless the adultery is a part of truly unhealthy and potentially dangerous behavior. I've had situations where, again, sex parties and things like that, and bringing some strangers just into the house when kids are there and things like that. Again, it's less about the adultery, just the fact that adultery occurred, and more about you are potentially endangering a child or children. Since those are the decisions that you're making, then perhaps the kids don't need to be with you as often.
Leh Meriwether: Right. I would say, between 90% and 95% of the time, adultery does not impact child custody. The two times primarily where I see the exception or one, like you said, the behavior surrounding the adultery. For example, let's say the wife moves out of the marital home with the children and moves into her boyfriend's home. I have seen that result and the father winning primary custody, even on a temporary basis right away. I've seen that happen multiple, multiple times.
Leh Meriwether: The other time is when the person who's been impacted by the adultery, so the one who is faithful during the marriage, they get so upset by the adultery, that they constantly bad mouth the other parent to the children. It becomes an over obsession to the point where their pain is causing a negative impact on the children and the court winds up awarding custody of the kids to the person who committed adultery. As crazy as that may sound, I've seen it happen before. I've seen children, because they got so upset at their ... Here's a quick example. Dad cheats.
Leh Meriwether: Mom can't stop badmouthing dad. First, the 14-year-old daughter didn't want anything to do with dad. Dad just kept showing up to all her events and her extracurricular activities, kept writing her letters. Then eventually, the daughter realized, well, my dad's not this evil angry person like my mom says, sounds like dad made a mistake. I forgive him from that mistake. Mom, can you just back off for a while? I get it. You were hurt. That's ridiculous what dad did. She wouldn't back off. In Georgia, a 14-year-old can elect which parent they want to live with. Well, the daughter elected to live with dad. As unfair as that may seem, that's what happened.
Todd Orston: Yeah. Really, that's a very specific example with an older child. With younger kids, what I've seen also is, and I know sometimes it defies logic that the other party committed adultery, but you have young kids and let's say you're in the middle of that custody fight, a guardian ad litem has been appointed somebody to represent the interests of the children. Let's say they're old enough that the guardian can speak to the kids and the kids are like, daddy is a liar and daddy is this and daddy is that.
Todd Orston: Meanwhile, you, the aggrieved party, the party who did not commit adultery, you're like, see what his adultery did to this family? Unfortunately, that's not the way the guardian is going to see it. That's not the way the court is going to see it. The courts going to say, no, no, no, the adultery broke your marriage, but you, with what you are saying and doing in front of the kids, that is what is having this negative impact. These kids are young enough. They shouldn't even know that this happened. They know more than they really should. At that point, then the judge is going to be thinking about your decision making ability, and whether or not you can put this anger aside and actually co-parent for the benefit or to the benefit of the kids.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. We hate to even give this, talk about this, because I know that those who have been the victim of adultery, it doesn't make sense to them because they're in so much pain, which I understand. That is exactly why we're sharing this information, because we don't want that pain to be augmented by a decision of the court because of its impact on the kids. I think you're better off taking that emotional energy and getting into counseling to deal with that pain and the grief.
Todd Orston: I agree with that.
Leh Meriwether: It may not be fair, but it's just the way it is. I'm just trying to be real with those that are listening, so that that actually will help you get over this rather than having a long drawn out case in court. When we come back, we're going to talk about adultery's impact on alimony and its impact on the financial aspects of the divorce and the emotional impacts of divorce. I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 a.m. on Monday mornings on WSB. You can always check us out there as well.
Todd Orston: Better than like counting sheep, I guess, right?
Leh Meriwether: That's right.
Todd Orston: You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.
Leh Meriwether: There you go.
Todd Orston: I'll talk very soft.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at atlantadivorceteam.com. You can also get transcripts of this show and others at divorceteamradio.com. Now I want to say this because Todd and I really got into this more than I thought we would.
Leh Meriwether: I had set aside some questions that we've gotten about adultery that are ... Some are unique, which is why I wanted to get into them. We don't want to rush through those questions. What I'm going to do is I'm going to save these questions that I know we get other questions about adultery all the time. We're going to save that for a later show. We'll spend a whole show just answering unique questions concerning adultery and divorce. I will just tossed out there, you can always email us. Email us if you're interested. If you've got a question, just email us at email@example.com. Just email me and I will add those questions to the show. Okay, let's get back into it.
Todd Orston: Let's get into it. Alright, I know we're going to talk and are going to talk about the emotional impact on the financial. Let's save emotion for the end. Let's jump into financial. What are your thoughts, Leh, about financial impacts related to adultery?
Leh Meriwether: Well, so on the financial impacts, let me just say this, if you're planning on ... There's two sides. If you're the victim of adultery and you want to prove that in court, you want to prove the other person committed adultery and maybe they're denying it, there is a cost for that. There is a financial cost and there's an emotional cost, we'll talk about that later. There is a financial cost there. You have to hire a forensic accountant. Because maybe they were hiding it, but you can find proof of it in their credit card statements or it was a hidden credit card. There's a cost for that.
Leh Meriwether: If it's a $2,500 trip with the boyfriend or the girlfriend, you could spend $10,000, to prove that $2,500 trip. That's on the one end of the financial. On the other end of the financial, if you have been the one who's committed adultery, I'm just being upfront, expect to pay more in your divorce unless the other person can work through their pain, because they're hurting. If there's one thing that drives up divorce cost more than others, it's emotion. The adultery is probably one of the most powerful emotions when you're the victim of it that can be in a divorce.
Leh Meriwether: It can really drive up costs. When you fight it, I mean, talk to your attorney about the merits of fighting it versus just admitting to it. Because we've often found, depending on the case, when we've done an analysis, it was easier and better for our client to just admit to it. Now, technically, in Georgia, it is considered a crime. It's on the books. Actually, when you're asked questions about adultery, you can plead the Fifth. Sometimes it's just not worth it. You're better off just saying, you know what, I'm sorry, it happened. No, I didn't spend any money on this person.
Leh Meriwether: Here's all my credit card statements. Here's all my bank statements. I know I have 30 days to give you these documents, here they are right now. I got nothing to hide. Ask me any questions you want to ask me. That may not be enough. We have seen that. We're like, well, we want to take the deposition of your girlfriend or your boyfriend. It's going to accomplish anything, but I'm not going to stop you. Because I'd rather just get past this because we have kids to deal with. All I can say is I'm sorry. Again, I don't know the circumstances of your case.
Leh Meriwether: I'm not saying that's the right path to take in your circumstances. Because I don't know what judge you're in front of, I don't know what state you're in front of. You need to talk to your lawyer about that. In general, you're better off, you just expect to pay more, expect to do more what's called discovery if you're the one who committed adultery. Even if it doesn't make a difference, at the end, they still have a right to explore all these things.
Todd Orston: Yeah. Very quickly, just a comment on that. It's a cost benefit analysis. That's where you have to have a good relationship with your attorney and you have to have confidence that your attorney isn't going to drag you unnecessarily into deeper litigation on these issues if it's not going to benefit you at all. Now I've been in cases where we have sought information about adultery, where we have deposed to deal with the issue of adultery and to prove that. Usually it is tied into some other goal we are trying to accomplish, something else we want for our clients.
Todd Orston: It could be a financial, "Hey, did you have an affair?" The other party says, "Nope, didn't do it." We have all the evidence necessary and we depose and we prove it. We are also therefore proving this is a five-year-relationship, you've gone on 12 trips and you've bought watches and this and that. It's all going to be tied together. If all you're going to prove is that it happened and it has no impact, you may want to just move on. Again, I'm not saying that's the general rule. I'm saying that's the conversation you should be having with your attorney. Leh, are there any other financial concerns related to adultery and the impact in a divorce?
Leh Meriwether: Those are the two biggest ones. I think if there's one thing, it adds costs to the divorce, period. Sometimes, at the end of the day, that is a absolute cost benefit analysis. I would let your attorney who is supposed to be neutral, they're supposed to be a zealous advocate, but they're not supposed to be a blind advocate. That means they are there trying to give you some non-emotional instructions, counsel so that you can make the best possible decision. What's tied to that financial component in what you were talking about is the alimony aspect. Because in Georgia, there is an impact of adultery that ... If anything, to me, that's the biggest one that's on the books, is the impact of adultery on alimony.
Todd Orston: Yeah. That leads us into a discussion about in Georgia what it's called is, there's a bar. There's a bar to alimony. We have talked about this at length. We don't have enough time for me to truly get on my soapbox. I think it's wrong. I think it is an improper law. I think, in its application, it is sexist. The reason is, there is a bar in Georgia that if you can prove that the other party committed adultery and it resulted in the breakup or the breakdown of the marriage, then it can bar the party who committed adultery from asking for and getting alimony.
Todd Orston: Well, the problem I have with it is there's no corresponding punitive aspect to an alimony request. Meaning if the party who would be the one paying alimony committed adultery, it's not like, oop, you committed adultery, pay this. I'm not advocating for that. 99% of the time, the gender of the person asking for alimony is going to be ... It's the woman. Simply because they have taken on what I will argue is the harder role of managing the house, managing the family, managing the kids, dealing with all the things that most men would run screaming down the street if they had to take on that responsibility.
Todd Orston: 99% of the time, it's going to be a woman. If that woman has an affair and it's proven and it resulted in the breakup, she cannot ... Doesn't matter what her need is, she can't ask for, and more importantly, the court is barred from giving her ... I mean, actually to be clear, she can ask for it, but the court will be barred from giving her any alimony. How many times have you seen situations where a man is in a situation where he is the one asking for alimony? I can tell you, in 20 plus years of practice, I think on one hand, maybe I've seen that situation.
Leh Meriwether: I've seen it more. What's interesting is in every situation, this is the flipside of the practical application of alimony, on the flipside, I have seen men be stay-at-home dads. I'm not talking about just for a few months. I mean, they were the stay-at-home dad, the whole relationship. When they asked for alimony, didn't matter if it was a male or a female judge, they basically said, "Sir, you can go out and get a job." There was no award of alimony.
Leh Meriwether: The alimony thing, while it is gender neutral and the language, its practical application when it comes to adultery and when it comes to the award of alimony, it has a disparate impact on the ... That's the legal term, a disparate impact on the gender. Actually, we have a minute to get to the emotional part. I think we hit all the factors on the alimony.
Todd Orston: Yup, I agree.
Leh Meriwether: On the emotional side, there's an emotional cost to making adultery the center of the divorce. There's an emotional cost for you because it draws out the case. There was an emotional impact on the kids that you need to consider very, very closely. I know you had something to say on this too, Todd.
Todd Orston: Yeah. Obviously, you're hitting the point, which is this is the business of divorce. I know it sounds cold and it almost leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I say it that way. Emotion does nothing good in a divorce case. It can impact you. It can impact the judge's decisions and it definitely can impact children. You need to figure out a way to compartmentalize and push that to the side so you can focus on the business of getting the divorce in a way, in a manner that will basically not just burn everything to the ground and cause pain to you and children and everyone involved.
Leh Meriwether: Well that about wraps up the show. Hey, everyone. Thanks so much for listening.