Ask a Divorce Lawyer: My wife is saying I’m a sex addict because of my infidelity. How will that affect custody?

Question: My wife is trying to paint me as a sex addict to limit my contact with our kids due to my infidelity. Do I have to prove that I am not a sex addict or predator?




Answer: Family law is state specific and I am not licensed to practice in Oregon. Before you take any action you should contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in Oregon.

In many states, the courts will look at two factors when deciding custody: parental fitness and the best interests of the child. The allegations of being a sex addict could possibly affect both factors. However, it will also depend on the credibility of the evidence your wife presents in support of her claims. How much you will have to ‘disprove’ her claims will depend on the quality of the evidence she presents. Will she simply be getting up on the stand and making a statement, or will she have credible witnesses or records to admit?

It will be your burden in court to prove you are a fit parent. This burden will be made greater by your wife’s claims. You will need to show that her claims are untrue, or in the alternative, that your actions have not had an adverse affect on your children, and that you are capable of being a good parent. 

Assuming you are planning on an eventual custody trial, a few suggestions would be:

1. Start a journal and chronicle all of your time with your kids. What do you do with them, where do you go, who with?

2. Exercise all of your visitation time, and spend that time with your kids as much as possible. Do not have friends or family look after your kids during your visitation time, to the extent that is possible.

3. Go to their activities and support them. Let other people see you taking an interest in your kids, particularly people who might be called on later to testify in court as to your involvement.

4. If you are seeing someone, do not expose your children to this person. Courts have a low tolerance for bringing significant others around children during the pendency of a divorce. Don’t talk about him or her around your children, or make comments as to whom you are with when the children aren’t around. Keep your private life private.

5.  Limit your time on the Internet when your kids are around. If your kids testify, it’s better they don’t have reason to say that you spend a lot of time on the computer.


Nancy R. Shannon, a Nebraska native, is an Associate Attorney in the Omaha, Nebraska office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed in the state of Nebraska where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Shannon received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Doane College and her Juris Doctor from University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where she was a finalist in a Moot court competition and active in Client Counseling activities.

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4 comments on “Ask a Divorce Lawyer: My wife is saying I’m a sex addict because of my infidelity. How will that affect custody?

    Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s not natural to be with one person monogamously for a long period of time. Don’t let society label you. In the future you should be honest with your partners and maybe not get married.

    I lost my 6 figure job due to sleeping with a coworker last year, and, this being the fourth affair I had had during our 10 year marriage, I was desperate to find an “answer” to my “problem”. I truly haven’t felt like I’ve loved my husband for years, but with children aged 6 and 4, I was willing to do what I needed to preserve our nuclear family. Well, I saw a therapist and was diagnosed with having a sex and love addiction, even though I knew all my partners and I was not unsafe in my behavior. Impulsive maybe, but not unsafe. I never, ever put my children in any type of precarious position or exposed them to my trysts in any way. I joined a 12 step program for sex addicts and even went to a program in Beverly Hills for sex addicts that cost me $12k. I have been a stay-at-home mom now for 8 months. I do anything and everything for my kids, and I love them dearly. I drink socially, not heavily, I do no drugs. I was “sober” for several months upon my return from LA, but I felt like my husband was so condescending and judging of my past behavior that I recently filed for divorce. In addition, I have met someone that I enjoy spending time with and I see him maybe once a week and we text regularly. Well, long story short (too late), my husband has vowed to fight tooth and nail for full custody of the kids, stating that I am “mentally ill” and that my “addiction” will hurt the children psychologically. I say b.s. Im not into porn, don’t do Craig’s List crap, I’m not a hooker, haven’t brought my new paramour around the kids, etc. I regret ever accepting the label of a “sex addict” because I fear it will harm my chances for joint custody. Has anyone ever heard of or been involved in a similar situation? I can’t imagine the courts deeming me unfit, but the SA label seems so damning 🙁 Abe, I feel for you, dude. She sounds like someone who needs help and in your case, I hope the courts intervene.

    hi i am going through tough times my wife is a sex addict .not sure how many times she has cheated on me .we have to kids a 9 year old and a 2 year old .the 9 year old is not my boold but i love him has if he was .her sex addict has got me brutal attack by one of here sex partners.why am here is becuse am done with her i cant take it anymore .she has destroyed our marriage .my biggest issue is the fact that she told me that she use to leave her 2 year old baby boy at home by himself while she went out with guys she met on about a year ago me and my son went camping when we got home she was passed out .her phone rang she had a text message from a guy apologizing for not making it. said his car broke down .i read all the text messages from the conversation .she had just met him on craigslist and she invited him over for sex even though weeks earlier we had seen a special on craigslist killers .she drinks and drives spend all the money she has no care for this family. and i fear the safety of my kids when Im not around. can i use this in court to help my case , we are in denver co

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