Hypothetically speaking, would you divorce over adultery, if you have kids?

Not simply because of an affair, no.

It is certainly understandable if one desires to divorce a spouse who has committed adultery. The law understands this as well, which is why adultery is grounds for divorce in every state in this country.

But neither the law nor the Judeo-Christian religions mandate divorce in the event of adultery. Even most areligious people agree that adultery does not necessitate divorce. Indeed, public policy, every religious creed I know of, and the mental health care community discourage divorce generally, even if there may be a “fault” basis for divorce. Why might that be?

Adultery will almost always shake the innocent spouse’s trust in the adulterer. Adultery can so deeply hurt and anger the innocent spouse as to make him or her feel that forgiveness is impossible.

Some adulterers are unrepentant. They are therefore impossible to trust. Worse, their promiscuity poses a literal threat to the health and life of the innocent spouse. Their chronic infidelity raises the realistic specter of abandonment of the innocent spouse and children, if there are any. Clearly, there are situations in which adultery may be reason enough for divorce.

Almost every divorce, however, will harm children. Even the end of a dysfunctional marriage leaves children feeling unmoored, betrayed, rejected, and insecure. Sometimes a divorce is necessary for the children’s immediate and long-term safety and well-being (both physical and emotional), even if it is painful and traumatic for them.

One of the incalculably priceless benefits of marriage is having a family because children help to strip a husband and wife of many vices they might not otherwise have chosen to give up. The choice to be a parent is a choice to make sacrifices that ultimately create—by an order of magnitude—a more meaningful, worthwhile life.

When you commit to being a good parent, you inherently commit to becoming a far better person generally. Committing to being a good parent necessarily requires committing to being a better spouse. These facts give new and deeper meaning to the phrase “staying together for the sake of the children.” If a husband and wife find it difficult to overcome the effects of adultery on themselves, they may discover that staying together for the sake of, for the love of, for the protection of and for the benefit of their children will reveal to them why and how they can and should repent, forgive, and recommit to each other.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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