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A Family Law Attorney’s Perspective on Infidelity Investiations For Divorce Cases in California
I spoke with an Orange County Ca family law attorney today and received his stance on infidelity in California divorce. I am not printing the attorney’s name here due to some unanswered questions and my summary of his stance on them. The general message I received was a resounding – Infidelity is a non event in divorce court!
I proposed that in my experience, infidelity itself is not the make or break issue but a vehicle to sway the court’s opinion of the cheater’s integrity, reliability, etc. Essentially, a character marker that can be beneficial to exploit. The attorney reiterated that infidelity meant nothing! I was attempting to move the discussion from the basic act to how infidelity can play a role in a divorce case with some visible resistance.
When I discussed child custody and support, this attorney agreed that infidelity could become a consideration. He offered that if the infidelity is creating financial hardship, this would play into the court settlement. His example was, the cheater goes out and buys his girlfriend a hundred thousand dollar car at what would be family expense or community property. Showing irresponsibility appears to have more weight than the simple act of cheating.
My experience is that it’s all about money in divorce court. Sadly this sentiment was driven home in my discussion with this attorney.
There is no question in my mind that your choice of attorney is critical in the process. As this attorney intimated, the court can see through the typical stories of infidelity but the bottom line is what monetary damage did the infidelity cause? I asked if considerable time away from relationship due to cheating was a consideration in divorce court to which he emphatically proclaimed, no!
We did not get into specifics regarding other mitigating factors considered in court but basically agreed that there are ancillary factors that may be started through infidelity. Having sex in front of the children was another over the top observation from the attorney.
So cheating is no problem in the eyes of a no fault state and this attorney, in and of itself. However, if the cheating leads to loss of family assets or inappropriate parenting, the court is apparently interested in addressing and adjusting support payments and visitation.
You must keep in mind the fact that the act of infidelity itself is a victimless non event in a no fault state like Ca! On the other hand, when children and finances are concerned, infidelity can indeed come into play. If you have no children and your cheating husband or wife did not cause financial burden due to the cheating, infidelity is basically off the table for discussion in this attorney’s eyes.
I offered my experience to this attorney regarding how I have witnessed infidelity coming into play as part of a character assassination. Not just the infidelity but an onslaught of accusations throughout a trial. He offered how he does not operate that way and finds it essentially distasteful when that occurs.
My feeling is that if I were to have asked this attorney about client finances, I may have gotten a better picture. You see, if you have very little money, the attorney is correct in stating that infidelity is a non factor. Here’s one reason why. If there is little money to pay for attorney fees, quite sadly, the nuanced issues of infidelity and other indiscretions are simply not going to get the attention. Conversely, in my experience, if the couple has above average income and assets, the more attention to “non factors” such as infidelity begin to creep into play. Again, I am referring to couples with children that have fairly high net worth.
What’s the take from this interview?
If you have little in assets and no children, infidelity investigations for the sake of court favor is a low return on investment. Unless you simply want to know the character of your significant other outside of any perceived court benefit, the act of infidelity is basically a moot point in a no fault state.
Another very important observation from this author
The attorney I spoke with was very pragmatic on no fault law and likely typical of most family law attorneys. If you are a person and couple of little means with no children, this attorney is absolutely correct in my viewpoint. If you have money and children, you must be aware of attorneys that have track records of skirting “non admissible” evidence in their presentations. An aggressive and outspoken attorney that casts doubt about the cheater’s character and ability to conduct himself responsibly can pay big dividends. I have been at trials where over days of testimony, the cheater has gone from infidelity to child molestation inferences. All accusations of course rebutted by opposing counsel with demands to strike questions and comments from the record.
Is it foul play? dirty tactics? Yes, and as this attorney and myself agree, not supposed to be part of the California no fault divorce court proceedings or any other for that matter. Does it work to play these dirty, character raking tactics? Unfortunately if presented by the “right” attorney, yes! I offer this observation not to encourage you to hire this type of attorney but to be aware that they are out there and your ex may have hired one!
If you have a family business where finances and books can be cooked, you better believe that character assassination is going to affect the court if done by a masterfully dirty attorney. I have seen the most upstanding people get accused of the most hideous crimes and behavior in court. If there is a consistent and unrelenting discourse about the cheating spouses terrible attributes, whether true or not, it can adversely affect the court’s judgment of the cheater. It’s human nature, I have seen it over and over.
Critical Lesson Regarding Family Law Attorneys
Consider and interview several attorneys before jumping in. Just like this private investigator, I must align with my client’s case and needs or refuse the case. Your attorney must align with your needs to work together. This is not to say that you expect the attorney to lie and present a case based on your knowledge or lack thereof of the laws. On the other hand, do not assume all lawyers are the same. Ask how many court trials he has been involved with. Ask his opinion and get referrals if you can. Do not let the attorney call all the shots! If you can’t get on the same page or the vibe is simply bad and you don’t feel that you are getting the best effort, don’t hire him or if you already have, fire him and get another! Riding it out with a bad attorney is your fault and can drain your finances and put you in a world of hurt.
David E Moody
Destiny Private Investigation
Huntington Beach Ca
Mr. Moody has been a private investigator since 1972 starting as a Pinkerton detective.