Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)

An Unfaithful Spouse Today Brings About New and More Deadly Consequences

“I think my wife is having an affair. What should I do?” The man asking is in my office and thinking about a divorce. His wife’s possible affair is one of several reasons.


I get this question frequently, from both men and women suspicious of how their spouse is spending their extramarital time. It is an important one to answer, but for far different reasons today than 25 years ago.


Back in the late 1970s, when I first began representing divorce clients, proving that a husband or wife had been unfaithful was considered by most judges as marital misconduct and usually resulted in the offending spouse being “punished” in the division of the marital property. Typically, the “injured” spouse would receive an additional 10% of the marital “pot” to compensate him/her for the suffering incurred due to the spouse’s illicit behavior.


Today, you will be hard-pressed to find a judge in St. Louis that takes much notice to these allegations, even when proven. I’m not sure why…perhaps we are all more jaded now…but faithlessness is usually not a factor in dividing up the property, unless the affair damages the mate in a meaningful way other than “just” emotionally.


It is the possibility of damaging consequences, particularly to the health of the faithful partner, that drives the advice I give every suspicious client today. If you have any inkling that your spouse may be sleeping in more than one bed, the first thing you must do is have yourself tested for sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV, syphilis, etc. And, if you and your spouse remain involved sexually, even if only occasionally, than you will be at risk each “time”, assuming your spouse is in fact seeing someone on the side.


For that reason, I urge my clients to do everything they can to learn the truth. This begins by asking your mate directly, calmly and supported with whatever “evidence” you have. If you are both in counseling, this can be a good environment. The counselor can keep the discussion focused, yet constructive, while providing the support needed to work through the issue.


A denial, particularly if accompanied with credible explanations, might be good news and enough to allay your suspicions. However, keep in mind that the sexually duplicitous spouse has had a lot of time to get his/her story straight and it would not be unreasonable if you decided to dig a little further just to corroborate what you are hearing.


If you haven’t already, a good place to start is your mate’s cell phone, credit card, bank and calendar records. Are there repeated calls at odd times to the same number? Frequent and unexplained cash withdrawals from the ATM? Cryptic entries in the calendar for after work or weekends? One former client, after uncovering a trail of unexplained expenditures and absences, called the mystery number to learn that it belonged to a woman that her husband had also married. That one call brought a sudden end to both relationships!


Finally, I advise hiring a private investigator. If you supply the investigator with the specific information about your mate’s behavior that has raised your suspicions, such as consistently working late on Tuesday and Thursday evenings,  the financial cost of learning the truth, could be just a few hundred dollars. Of course, should you learn that the overtime your spouse has been putting in hasn’t been at the job, then the emotional cost is likely to be more devastating than the investigator’s fee.


Even so, you’ll know the truth. And, as the old saying goes, the truth shall set you free!