If you are considering filing for a divorce in Virginia because of adultery, you need to be aware of how the law works in regards to your situation. There is no waiting period or required time of separation when filing for a divorce because your spouse committed adultery.
In Virginia, adultery is considered grounds for a fault divorce. A fault is a marital misconduct that is committed by a guilty spouse against an innocent spouse. In order to be granted a divorce because of infidelity, you need to ask yourself how does adultery affect a divorce?
- According to Virginia law, adultery is sexual intercourse with any person that is not the husband’s or wife’s spouse.
- To qualify as a divorce ground, your spouse’s affair must have become physical—culminating in sexual intercourse. Mental or emotional affairs do not count. Being overly familiar with a new friend at work is not enough. Proving adultery means proving sexual intercourse.
- If a spouse commits adultery and the other spouse condones the act and continues to live with the guilty spouse after the act has occurred, the court does not have to grant a divorce because of this fault.
- If both spouses have committed adultery and are seeking to gain a divorce, the court will not grant a fault divorce due to recrimination. Recrimination is when both parties are guilty of adultery. Either party can use recrimination as a defense in divorce proceedings in Virginia. However, after a year of separation either spouse can file for a no-fault divorce.
- Virginia law does not exact any type of “fine” or punitive damages from the spouse who committed adultery. Adultery may have an impact on the distribution of the parties’ marital assets and debts—although not as much as you might think. And in most cases, adultery will not significantly impact the court’s rulings on child custody and visitation. It is only on the issue of spousal support that adultery usually has a tremendous impact.
- Adultery occasionally provides some helpful leverage in negotiating a favorable settlement. While some adulterous spouses seem completely impervious to the proverbial airing of “dirty laundry,” the majority would prefer to retain some dignity and move on with their lives. When the alternative is having their indiscretions showcased in open court, many such spouses agree to give their wronged ex a little more home equity, provide a tad higher support payment, or maybe take on slightly more credit card debt.
- Proving the adultery may not help that much in a custody and visitation battle. Virginia law directs the courts to look at several factors when determining custody, but one parent having an affair is not one of them. The court may prohibit exposure of the children to any new boyfriend or girlfriend prior to the finalization of the divorce but is not likely to deny a cheating spouse primary custody and/or visitation based solely on the adultery.
Finally, adultery should not be a reason that is used lightly when seeking a divorce in Virginia because it has severe consequences that can affect the final outcome of your divorce. When determining the distribution of property and debts, the judge will not award any spousal support or alimony to the guilty spouse unless the denial of alimony will result in gross or manifest injustice.
If you need a Virginia Divorce Lawyer to help you with your divorce case in Virginia, call us at 888-437-7747. Our Virginia divorce attorneys can help you.