Columbus family law attorney, Courtney Hanna, discusses your legal recourse under Ohio law if you find your spouse cheating.
Audrey Hasson: Or you’ve celebrated countless anniversaries with your spouse. It’s never easy to admit when he or she might be showing signs of being unfaithful. Attorney Courtney, Hannah, president of Joseph and Joseph law is here to help answer your questions on what to do if your significant other is cheating. Courtney, thank you for joining us.
Courtney Hanna: Thanks for having me.
Hasson: First off, it can be emotional overwhelming to say the least. When people learn their spouses cheating.
Hanna: Of course.
Hasson: What are the next steps that they should take?
Hanna: It really depends on where they are emotionally, as you said. What we always ask people to do is come in for a consult so you know what your options are. Whether or not you decide that you are going to stick it out with your partner, go to counselling, try to make the marriage work, or whether or not you need to look for signs of something going wrong in the marriage while you’re trying to make it work.
For instance, if you see money starting to disappear from accounts, if you see you being taken off of certain policies, things of that nature that we are concerned about. And we would say maybe it’s time to file for divorce so that you can protect yourself financially.
Hasson: Sure, and you’ve mentioned a few of those signs, but if they’re in the early process of questioning, what are some of the common signs that your clients have seen that make them start to think their spouse might be cheating?
Hanna: A lot of the times it could be that one person no longer wants to be intimate in the marriage. That’s a sign that they may be being intimate outside of the marriage, staying late at work multiple times. I’m taking phone calls at odd hours, stories not matching up, saying they’re doing one thing and you found they’re doing something else, and just a sense of something being off is really the main thing. You’ve been with your partner, you know how things have been for years and just a sense of something not, not being quite right.
Hasson: just really not clicking, but you know, almost deep down inside when you’re questioning that.
Hanna: Right – something may be going on.
Hasson: When should they get to the point that they should file for divorce and if so, when is the right time?
Hanna: It really depends on, like I said earlier, where they are emotionally. The person that is having an affair has probably been stepped out of the marriage emotionally for a while. So the person that just finds out about it is not there yet. So they need to work through their feelings and at the same time worry about making sure that they’re protected down the road. So we’ll go through with them exactly what is going on, on a day to day basis and signs that we would look out for it to say. I know you may not be emotionally ready, but to protect yourself, we need to go ahead and move forward with this.
Hasson: I think a lot of people might question will they get more in the divorce since their spouse is the one at fault for terminating the marriage?
Hanna: In some States they will, but Ohio is not one of those States – Ohio is a no fault state.
There are a couple aspects though where the court does care if the spouse is cheating. And one of those would be if we’re looking at financial misconduct. Has that spouse used marital funds in order to further their affair? Have they gone to hotels? Have they bought gifts have they dined out with that significant other? And what we would do is kind of a forensic accounting of the accounts to see where money went. And then the spouse that was cheated on would be able to get 50% of the funds that were spent on the paramour back.
Because that was marital money, and the other aspect that the court cares about is as it relates to the children. Is this person going to be a bad influence on the children? Did they have a criminal history that we need to worry about, drug or alcohol use that we need to worry about. So while it’s a no fault state, those are a couple of things that the court does take into consideration when looking at an affair of a spouse.
Hasson: In speaking about the children then I mean that’s one of the most difficult parts with the other people situation. Can the person stopped their spouse from being around the paramour or their lover for the kids?
Hanna: Yeah, and again, unless there is something going on with that person, if they would be a bad influence or that they have, you know, violence issues or drug addiction or anything of that nature, really the court is going to allow both parties to move on and is going to allow them to be with somebody different. Their children are going to be able to be around that person, although you may not like it. Unfortunately, you know the spouse is allowed to move on in life.
Hasson: And Courtney, if someone believes his or her spouse might be cheating and they call you for an initial meeting, what will that entail?
Hanna: We’ll go over what they think is happening. We’ll compare it to what we’ve seen in other cases, and sit down and just go over their options, go over all of their assets, their liabilities, where things currently stand, what’s going on with the kids, and just take them step by step through the process and say, this is what we can do on day one and see how things are going and, and take them through.
Hasson: It’s never easy to have that Frank conversation with yourself or your spouse when you believe one might be unfaithful. But Courtney and her team at Joseph and Joseph law, try and make it a bit easier. You can contact them josephandjoseph.com or give them a call. The information is on your screen.
Hanna: Thank you.
Hasson: Thank you so much for joining us. Courtney.