Infidelity and Divorce Mediation...Can It Be Successful?

Posted by Lauren Napolitano

Infidelity and divorce mediation.

Can Divorce Mediation be Successful in the Wake of Infidelity?


When a marriage ends due to infidelity, there are generally two parties involved:

  • The victim: the one who feels scorned, betrayed and humiliated.
  • The cheater: the one who is guilty, defensive or remorseful.

So it begs the question: can this type of divorcing couple utilize divorce mediation despite experiencing strong negative emotions?

The answer is yes - BUT both parties must be motivated to compartmentalize their feelings about the infidelity during the divorce mediation process.  

Here’s the roadmap for a divorce fueled by emotions surrounding an extra-marital affair:


Roadmap of Divorce Fueled By Emotions of Infidelity

  • The victim blames the cheater for the divorce and therefore says that he/she is not entitled to alimony or child support.
  • The victim decides that the cheater is an unfit parent and blocks the cheater from his/her seeing kids on a consistent basis.
  • The victim decides that because the divorce was caused by the cheater, that he/she deserves the bulk of the marital estate. 
  •  The cheater hides joint savings accounts. 
  • The cheater retaliates by hiring a ‘big gun’ divorce attorney to intimidate the victim.
  • The divorce costs over $80,000 and drags on for more than 4 years during which time both parties have liquidated a significant portion of the marital assets, and have struggled to move forward in their respective personal lives.
  • The children of the divorcing parents have been exposed to years of emotional turmoil related to the infidelity.    


Now, compare that to a roadmap for a divorce collaboratively constructed in the interests of all involved parties:

Roadmap of Divorce Focused on Best Interests of All Parties 

  • Both husband and wife work toward an amicable and fair resolution of legal matters.  In order to accomplish this, both parties contain their emotions about the affair, rather than letting them guide the legal process.
  • In the event that the cheating party wants to ease his/her guilt by offering money to the victim, a mediator can help to discuss financial arrangements according to the structure of the law, rather than based on emotional factors.  Infidelity is a common reason to end a marriage and has limited weight in determining alimony.
  • Equitable distribution is established according to state law.
  • Custody of the children is determined in the best interests of the children. 
  • When emotions run high, each party seeks professional and social support.  


The bottom line:
  • You don’t have to like your ex spouse in order to successfully mediate.
  • You don’t have to hold blind trust in your ex spouse in order to mediate.
  • You must only be able to trust that your ex spouse shares the same goal as you: which is to have a relatively swift and fair divorce - and one that focuses on the best interests of the children - not the act that led to the end of a marriage. 



Do you have more questions about mediation and infidelity? 

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Lauren Napolitano, PsyD.Lauren Napolitano, Psd, is a clinical psychologist with over 10 years experience in private practice in Bryn Mawr, PA. Areas of specialization include anxiety, depression, sexual issues, infidelity, postpartum depression, divorce, and co-parenting. She believes that focusing on your life TODAY is more effective for stress reduction than exploring childhood issues. Since 2009, she has also coordinated the group psychotherapy at Bryn Mawr Hospital. For more resources, visit her blog or schedule a 15 min free phone consultation. Follow Lauren @LNapolitanoPsyD 

Topics: Healthy Legal Options