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Judge reminds court that adultery is a crime in Illinois

Photo of Karen Lavin

An Illinois judge changed the momentum of one man's suit against his wife and surprised the divorce law community recently by reminding divorcing spouses and their representation that, although rarely prosecuted, adultery is still considered a crime. The legal opinion was delivered while the judge was hearing the case of a man who was suing his wife for allegedly reading private emails to and from his other lovers.

The judge took the opportunity to scold that plaintiff for "seeking a reward for concealing criminal activity" through the lawsuit. The suit had been filed parallel to the man being served divorce papers, after his wife had filed on the grounds that he was being unfaithful. The man then countersued after learning that she had allegedly configured his email to forward copies of his correspondence to her without his knowledge. The suit claimed that she was violating his rights under the Wiretap Act.

The judge acknowledged that the wife's actions were indeed a violation of his understanding of the Federal Wiretap Act. According to the suit, the wife had gained access to the husband's personal computer without his knowledge or consent in order to accuse him of adultery. However, the judge added that he "[does not ] understand why law should promote dishonesty and deception by protecting an undeserved, a rightly tarnished, reputation… We might compare Mrs. Epstein to a bounty hunter — a private person who promotes a governmental interest. She has uncovered criminal conduct hurtful to herself, and deserves compensation, such as a more generous settlement in her divorce proceeding."

While the results of the mutual lawsuits are still being specified, the message remains the same -- in divorce proceedings, it is worth it ensure that your behavior remains above reproach, or else it may take a very material toll on your settlement. If you are divorcing, it is important to have proper legal guidance. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can negotiate your divorce confidently, with the full strength of the courts in your favor.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "Adultery is a crime, judge tells man suing wife for reading lovers' emails," Kim Janssen, Dec. 21, 2016

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