Many divorces begin with the discovery of an affair. Whether or not this is the true cause of the divorce is not as important of a fact as it used to be, especially in a no-fault divorce state like Massachusetts. Regardless, the introduction of a third person into the complicated dynamics of divorce can still make the process much more difficult, often causing the parties to focus on the emotions involved in a divorce instead of the practical breakup of the business partnership.
Two of the most common ways that a new significant other can complicate a divorce case can be easily avoided. The first is when one party focuses all of their energy and anger over the divorce on the significant other. They want the significant other to be deposed and made a witness, even if the value to the case is minimal. They convince themselves that the new person is the cause of the divorce (rather than a symptom). This misplaced focus can take up hours of your attorney's time (at significant cost) and take focus away from the assets and income that need to be inventoried and divided. Even worse, this unhealthy focus usually leads to wanting my "day in court" to establish who are the "wrongdoers." See Mistake #5 for a description of why this can lead to disaster.
Although, being hurt or angry is natural, focusing on the significant other as the source of your problems is not constructive. If you are caught up in this cycle then we encourage you to get professional help dealing with these strong emotions, such as therapy. Lawyers are not trained to help you work though your emotions, and you should consult with a professional who has that training. Then you can focus with your legal team on the legal issues such as the practical financial considerations and setting your goals for the future.
The second common way that parties can involve significant others inappropriately in a divorce case, can often lead to the over-focusing described above. I call this mistake "flaunting" the new relationship. Some parties will insist that their new boyfriend or girlfriend accompany them to court hearings, or discuss them unnecessarily in front of the ex-spouse. These actions are not only hurtful, but often downright inflamatory. Worst of all, they are almost always completely unnecessary. Especially when a new relationship is young, there is no need for that third party to be involved in your divorce case. Encouraging them to be involved only increases the likelihood that emotions will stay high and your case will drag out needlessly.
Click here to view Mistake #1.