By Thacker Sleight
Finding out you have an STD can be crushing. You may blame your partner for being unfaithful and exposing you to the disease. Divorce may seem like a logical next step. But the path from diagnosis to the divorce may be longer than you think.
Monogamous and Infected: Where Did the STD Come From?
You’re sitting in the doctor’s office, anxious about some new trouble. The answer: you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD). But how? If you have been a faithful partner in a monogamous relationship, your thoughts may quickly turn to blame. If you haven’t been with anyone else sexually, then your husband, wife, or partner must have given it to you. They must have cheated on you.
If I’ve Been Infected, Does that Mean My Partner Cheated?
Often, an STD diagnosis, or sexually transmitted infection (STI) as doctors often call it, is a clue to a partner’s infidelity. But not every time. If your husband or partner insists they have been faithful, the new diagnosis may be the result of:
- Long incubation periods of preexisting STIs like HIV
- Recurrence of a previously treated infection, like syphilis
- Asymptomatic infections
In all these situations, your partner may have contracted the STD long before your relationship began. This isn’t a sign that they cheated, but it may mean you don’t know enough about your partner’s sexual history.
Can I Force My Spouse to Get Tested for STIs if They Cheated?
In other cases, the information goes the other way. You may learn your spouse has cheated on you through text messages, social media, or see it yourself. It can be crushing to know your husband or wife has turned away from you and broken their commitment to monogamy.
That infidelity also exposes you to life-long medical issues from an STD. You might choose to forgive your spouse or move on to a healthier relationship. Either way, you should know whether you have been exposed to an STD. If your partner has been with a new sexual partner, both of you should be tested as soon as possible. If your spouse refuses to be tested for STDs and you have filed for a divorce, you may be able to ask the judge to order that a diagnostic test be completed. This will help you and your doctors respond to any risk of infection.
Will Infidelity and STDs Affect My Divorce?
You don’t have to stay with a cheating spouse. Some people will move toward reconciliation, but others recognize it as a sign the relationship is over. Because Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, you won’t be required to prove it. However, evidence of infidelity and that your spouse gave you an STD could come into play.
Michigan divorce law says that a judge can consider fault as a factor in deciding how to divide property and award spousal support (alimony). Don’t think of this as a way to “get back” at your spouse. The judge won’t.
Instead, try to separate the emotional hurt of being cheated on from the financial and practical issues in front of the judge. Please work with your family law attorney to establish what their infidelity cost you and your family. This might include:
- Trips taken with their new partner
- Gifts given to their new partner
- Childcare costs when they should have been home
- Past and future medical expenses related to STD treatments
Suppose your spouse knew they had an STD and hid it from you. In that case, there may be a separate civil claim or even criminal charges related to the intentional transmission of an STD. The chances of a lawsuit or criminal charges can encourage your spouse to settle your divorce quickly and avoid creating a record of your testimony about the disease.
At Thacker Sleight, we understand how hurtful an STD diagnosis can be, especially when the infection came from a cheating spouse. Our experienced and empathetic divorce attorneys are dedicated to providing our clients exclusive, highly professional service that is sensitive to their unique situations. If you are considering divorce after an incident of infidelity and STDs, contact us at 616.888.3810 to schedule a consultation. We will be there with and for you every step of the way.