Ways That Adultery Affects Divorce in Virginia

June 9, 2014

No one likes to find out their spouse has been cheating.  Adultery can be very difficult to prove, but it has serious consequences in divorce cases in Virginia.

1  – Adultery is crime in Virginia.   In the Virginia Code, adultery is defined as a married person voluntarily having sexual relations with someone other than their spouse, and is a Class 4 misdemeanor.

2 – Adultery is a fault ground for divorce in Virginia.  An innocent spouse who has not condoned the guilty spouse’s conduct has the right to obtain a divorce in Virginia.  With a fault divorce based on adultery, you can file immediately (instead of waiting out the separation period).   However, keep in mind that proving adultery can be very difficult.  In Virginia, you must have a corroborating witness to grant a divorce.  Uncorroborated testimony will not be enough.  So you will likely have to hire a private investigator that can document a trail of behavior by the guilty spouse.

3 – Adultery can restrict the guilty spouse from receiving permanent spousal support.  Virginia Code mandates that no alimony can be awarded to the guilty spouse, except in circumstances where a denial would constitute manifest injustice.

4 – Adultery is one factor in the equitable distribution of property.  Among the factors that a Judge must consider in dividing marital property, one of them is “the circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including any ground for divorce.”

As you can see, while adultery affects divorce in Virginia in significant ways, it could also mean more expense and time.  If your spouse has committed adultery you should carefully consider whether to pursue a divorce on fault grounds or pursue a no-fault divorce instead.


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