Tag Archives: lawsuits for infidelity

A New Kind of Infidelity

DuPage County divorce lawyer, financial infidelity, hidden assets, infidelity, joint finances, lawsuits for infidelity, Wheaton divorce attorneyPeople commonly treat their finances as a personal, private matter, and not something to be discussed with others. However, that changes once they enter a marriage. Couples join their lives together during a marriage, and that includes joining their finances. They have to share bank accounts, take on debt together, and make purchases for the marriage as a unit. Not every couple does so successfully though. Instead, some spouses end up being financially unfaithful.

A recent survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education discovered that one out of every three adults who have been in a relationship with combined finances admits to lying about money. Some people even lied about such basic topics as the amount of debt they owe or the amount of income they earn. Seventy-six percent of people who responded to the survey also said that when dishonesty about money occurred, it had an effect on the relationship. It even ended in divorce in 16 percent of cases.

Warning Signs 

There are many different warning signs that a spouse may be committing financial infidelity. These include:

  • Becoming reserved or defensive when issues of money or spending come up;
  • Hiding cash or bank accounts from the other spouse;
  • Making large purchases on a whim or without consulting the other spouse;
  • Refusing to share financial information like bank statements or online banking logins;
  • Opening new credit cards in only their name; and
  • Hiding purchases, especially large ones, from the other spouse.

Responding to Financial Infidelity

Once a spouse discovers financial infidelity, they must make their own decision about how to handle it. Some couples choose divorce, while others attempt to go through the long, difficult process of working through the trust issues associated with financial infidelity.

If spouses do want to work through the issue of financial infidelity, then communication and transparency are key to solving the problem. At its core, financial infidelity is an issue of trust. The spouse who was lied to is going to need to learn to trust the other spouse again, and that takes time and understanding. Additionally, the communication is important to help spouses work through whatever issues caused the financial infidelity in the first place. Often, such dishonesty results from the two spouses’ having different money management styles; one spouse may prefer to save their money for a rainy day, while the other may prefer to spend it when they can. This is a common problem in many marriages, and simply requires compromise and openness to work through.

If your spouse has been financially unfaithful and you would like to file for a divorce, reach out to a skilled DuPage County divorce lawyer today. Our experienced team of attorneys will help defend your rights in and out of the courtroom.

The First Amendment Right to Infidelity?

alienation of affection, criminal conversation, DuPage County divorce attorney, First Amendment, infidelity, lawsuits for infidelityA handful of states, including Illinois, still recognize a pair of torts that allow spouses to sue their unfaithful partner’s lovers in certain circumstances. These torts, alienation of affection and criminal conversation, were recently the subject of a judicial opinion in North Carolina, where the trial court judge ruled that they were unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of expression. While such a ruling would have no actual legal effect in Illinois, courts do often look to other jurisdictions for persuasive legal reasoning, and the opinion provides a modern view on some very old laws that still affect people today

The Two Torts

Illinois still allows people to bring lawsuits for infidelity, but the circumstances need to be precise. The first cause of action that allows people to do this is a suit for alienation of affection. People would not bring this cause of action against their unfaithful spouse, but would instead sue the spouse’s lover. In order to prevail, the spouse would need to show that the lover’s actions were the sole cause of the divorce. It would not be enough that the unfaithful spouse’s feelings slowly faded on their own. Instead, the lover must have “pirated” away the affection, a very high bar to meet.

The other related tort is criminal conversation, which counter-intuitively is still a civil matter. Unlike alienation of affection, which requires the end of a marriage, an action for criminal conversation just requires the plaintiff to prove that their spouse and the lover engaged in intercourse, and that the spouses were not permanently separated with the intent to divorce.

Importantly, the Illinois legislature reformed both of these torts in the 1940s to limit the amount of damages available to plaintiffs. Rather than allowing punitive damages or damages for emotional distress, the law limits plaintiffs to the quantifiable economic harms of losing a spouse.

First Amendment Protections

A court in North Carolina, the nationwide leader in infidelity tort suits, recently reexamined these types of lawsuits in view of the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech and expression, but courts have long recognized that such protection is not absolute. Instead, courts examine the type of restriction on speech, the type of speech, and the level of state interest compelling the restriction. The court here held that these torts constituted the most severe type of restriction on speech: a restriction based on the speech’s content.

The opinion stated that, because the torts restrict the couple’s expressions of intimacy, it is presumptively invalid unless the state has a compelling interest in regulating the speech. The court found that no interest existed serious enough to justify restricting consensual sexual intercourse and what it expresses, so it held the torts unconstitutional. Whether that holding survives an appeal remains to be seen.

Whether you are considering filing for divorce or have already made your decision, reach out to an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney today. Our firm can help guide you through the process and answer your questions.