Adultery and Divorce in Virginia

Articles Of Interest

June 30, 2023Author: Grant Moher, Esq.

Adultery and Divorce in Virginia

If you learn your spouse has been having an affair, and you want to end the marriage, you might assume that the divorce process will be pretty straightforward and that you will have an advantage. After all, your spouse is the one who did something wrong. However, it is far from this simple in Virginia, and you always want to discuss your situation with a divorce lawyer who can advise you of your options. 

Fault-Based Divorce in Virginia

Virginia allows you to initiate a no-fault or fault-based divorce, and each has advantages and disadvantages, given your circumstances. For adultery to be the basis of your divorce, you must cite fault-based grounds. 

Although you might want to hold your spouse accountable for the divorce by citing adultery as the grounds for divorce, this is not a decision to take lightly. Doing so requires that you sufficiently prove the adultery to the court. You must prove their adultery with clear and convincing evidence, which is a high legal standard.

Having your spouse confess the affair to you might not be enough to prove these grounds due to legal principles against self-incrimination (which includes civil proceedings). You will need to present sufficient evidence for your fault-based divorce to proceed, and your spouse can challenge your grounds.

Fault-based divorce often takes longer and requires more resources. These cases can also be highly personal, contentious, and stressful. Always discuss the best grounds for your divorce with your attorney. Your spouse’s adultery does not necessarily mean pursuing a fault-based divorce would be the best thing for you. 

On the other hand, your spouse might be accusing you of adultery as grounds for your divorce. You need a lawyer who can help you effectively defend against these grounds when possible. 

Couple arguing in lawyer's office

How Adultery Affects Your Divorce Terms

The main issue highly affected by adultery is spousal support. Generally speaking, the court will not award alimony to a spouse who has proved to be cheating. If you expect to pay alimony following your divorce, proving adultery can help protect your finances. However, there are some exceptions when adulterous spouses still receive a spousal support award.  These exceptions include if both spouses can be proven to have committed adultery, if the court determines a denial of spousal support would be a “manifest injustice,” and if the adultery was condoned in some way.

Adultery in and of itself does not typically affect the issues of custody or visitation. However exposure of the children to a new boyfriend or girlfriend can have consequences.  Depending on how and when the new partner is introduced, a court could determine that the new partner’s involvement in a child’s life may not be in the child’s best interests.

Adultery may also have an impact on property division matters. The most important consideration for the court is usually economic – if money was spent on the affair – however depending on the circumstances the adultery itself could cause a court to make an unequal division of the marital assets. 

Learn How a Virginia Divorce Attorney Can Help

Our lawyers at Curran Moher Weis can help you decide how to best proceed if your spouse is having an affair. Contact us to learn about our services and how we can help in your divorce case. 


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