Herman Cain, Philandering Politicans & Misappropriation of Community Property

Herman Cain, erstwhile presidential candidate and pizza chain CEO, whose campaign website proclaims that the ultimate source of our greatness as a nation is America’s moral foundation, has now come to be known primarily as a serial sexual predator and long-term philandering husband.

Cain claims that the alleged 13-year extramarital affair was platonic and that the money paid to Ginger White, the woman claiming the affair, was to help her out with bills and expenses due to unfortunate financial circumstances. Indeed, claims Cain, she wasn’t the only friend he helped in these tough economic times because he is a soft-hearted person when it comes to this stuff.

Setting aside the issue of whether or not marital infidelity is or should be a relevant factor in the characteristics important in political figures, many influential people, political and otherwise, have had extramarital affairs, including but not limited to, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, Larry Craig, Warren Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King – the list is truly quite endless.

There seems little reason to believe that marital infidelity renders a politician unfit for leadership. Richard Nixon, though monogamous, was a thoroughly corrupt president, while Ted Kennedy, however personally dissolute, was an effective senator. I personally find the hypocrisy more problematic than the conduct itself – don’t have affairs and simultaneously campaign about sexual morality.

But whether Mr. Cain’s actually had an extramarital affair or was merely helping out a deserving friend, the fact is that he transferred assets/income from the marital estate without his wife’s knowledge or consent. If Mrs. Cain files for divorce, the fact of her husband’s infidelity is irrelevant in a no fault divorce state. However, she would be entitled to reimbursement for her share of the community assets transferred from the marital estate without her consent.

For example if Mr. Cain spent $1,000 per month for two years on Ms. White that would be a total of $24,000 and Mrs. Cain would be entitled to her share of that amount which is $12,000.

Although simple and straightforward in principle, sorting out these sorts of issues in the context of a litigated divorce can become enormously complicated, time consuming, and of course, ridiculously expensive. Paying attorneys and forensic accountants to sort through and review the bank and credit card statements and other evidence of the alleged misdeeds, and then for their legal briefs, documentation, testimony, possibly depositions and court appearances, may well cost two to four times the contested amount in the $12,000 example, and simply not worth doing.

In a Collaborative or mediated divorce however, it is likely to be far less costly and a relatively simple matter to resolve. The spouses and professionals may only need to review the relevant documents and discuss the issue and I suspect, more often than not, reach an agreement that will enable both parties to feel that the issue is resolved in a fair and expeditious way.