Is Infidelity Grounds for a Fault-Based Divorce?

Virginia is a no-fault divorce state. Many divorcing spouses choose to go with a no-fault divorce, as this method is often simpler, cheaper, and faster. However, unlike some other no-fault divorce states, Virginia does allow for fault-based divorce depending upon the grounds for the divorce.

There are several acceptable grounds for at-fault divorce in Virginia. Infidelity is just one of them.

In order to file for an at-fault divorce in Virginia, proof must be provided. If there is no acceptable evidence to support your claims of infidelity, then it may be impossible to file for a fault-based divorce. For this reason, among many others, it is highly recommended that you wait before filing for fault-based divorce on the grounds of adultery.

While your allegations may be true and honest, that does not mean that they will be easy to prove without evidence. It is highly recommended that you work with experienced divorce attorneys to represent your case as you pursue fault-based divorce on the grounds of infidelity.

What is Asset Division in a Virginia Divorce?

In a divorce, any shared marital property will be divided equitably (in a fair manner but not necessarily 50/50) between the two soon-to-be ex-spouses. Any property that is deemed separate property is not subject to property division in a VA divorce.

Marital property is any income, accrued debts, and assets purchased during the course of a Virginia marriage. In a divorce, marital property is divided between the two spouses. Virginia operates by an equitable division of property in divorce cases. This does not mean everything is split right down the middle equally. Equitable means fair. There may be certain factors that influence how the property is divided, including potentially the grounds for divorce.

How Could Adultery Affect a Divorce in Virginia?

Infidelity is one of the main causes of Virginia divorces. For one reason or another, one or both spouses may cheat on the other, and this could be seen as creating an irreconcilable schism between the two spouses.

Adultery can affect divorce proceedings in Virginia in many ways. Namely, it can lead to a fault-based divorce.

Will Provable Adultery Affect the Division of Assets in Divorce Proceedings?

Virginia family law courts may take one spouse’s adultery into account when making decisions about how to divide marital property. However, some family law judges may only consider making decisions based on proven adultery.

In many circumstances, while infidelity may be considered acceptable grounds for divorce, it is not necessarily grounds for changing the distribution of assets in a Virginia divorce.

Even if one individual’s cheating brought about the end of the marriage, that does not mean that the other, more ‘faithful’ spouse should expect to receive more than 50% of the marital estate in a divorce. In certain situations you may receive a slightly larger share in certain situations. However, please notice the emphasis on the word ‘may.’ This is not guaranteed.

How to Prove Adultery in VA Divorce Proceedings?

Virginia defines adultery as sexual intercourse by any married individual with someone else who is not their spouse. Notice that under this definition emotional affairs do not qualify as adultery in Virginia.

Having your soon-to-be ex-spouse confess to having an extramarital affair may or may not be enough evidence to prove the affair took place. In many instances, family law courts want more independent evidence of adultery in order to grant the allegations of infidelity as valid grounds for divorce in Virginia.

While a confession is valuable, you may need additional evidence from other sources.

Family law courts have a high standard of proof when it comes to evidence for allegations of adultery and divorce cases. Your evidence must be clear and convincing, or else it may be dismissed.

You should have at least one third-party witness willing to corroborate your allegations of adultery committed by your soon-to-be ex-partner. This standard of proof is designed to help prevent blackmail or coercion.

When building a convincing case of adultery, it is highly recommended that you work with experienced Virginia divorce lawyers.

Can Infidelity Limit Spousal Support?

Spousal support (also commonly known as alimony or spousal maintenance in different states across the country) is not guaranteed in Virginia divorces. However, in certain circumstances, a family law judge may deem spousal support necessary, especially in cases where one spouse earned far more than the other.

However, in most cases if you can prove to the court your allegations of infidelity on the part of your partner, the proof of adultery is a bar to an award of spousal support.

Could Adultery Affect Child Custody and Child Support Decisions?

Adultery is likely to have little impact on child custody, child support, and visitation rights. In all their decision-making, Virginia family law judges must always look out for the best interests of the children when rendering their decisions. Ultimately, most judges believe that it is important for children to maintain a relationship with both parents following a divorce, unless in certain situations where this would be deemed unwise. Generally speaking, judges may view infidelity as an issue between the parents, but not something that should impact an individual parent’s ability to spend time with their children.

Schedule an In-Depth Case Evaluation Today

Contested divorces and at-fault divorces are often more emotionally difficult than uncontested divorces. In addition to being more complicated, they are also often more costly and time-consuming. If you are pursuing an at-fault divorce on the grounds of infidelity in response to your spouse’s cheating, we highly advise you to seek legal guidance from our professional legal team.

You may call our Roanoke, Virginia-based law office at (540) 384-4585.