Divorce in Virginia: What if My Spouse Cheated on Me?
Adultery is a legal basis or “grounds” for obtaining a fault-based divorce in Virginia. If you suspect your spouse is cheating on you, you might be considering a divorce based on adultery. Before you do, it is important to understand the potential benefits as well as challenges involved in the process.
One benefit of pursing a divorce based on adultery is that there is no “waiting period” required, i.e. you do not have to be separated from your spouse for any period of time before you file for divorce or before a court grants you a divorce on adultery grounds. There are potential financial benefits as well. If the court finds that your spouse committed adultery, your spouse could lose all rights to spousal support or be awarded a smaller portion of the marital estate. Adultery, however, can be difficult and expensive to prove.
If you’re considering a divorce based on the grounds of adultery, it is important to consult with an experienced divorce attorney first. The attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, are highly skilled in family law and have vast experience with divorce matters throughout Northern Virginia, including Loudoun, Fairfax, Fauquier, Prince William and Arlington. No matter what the reason is that has led you to consider divorce, the attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy understand the emotional and financial challenges you may be facing and will guide you through the process, from start to finish, to protect your rights.
Considerations When Alleging Adultery
Once you have discovered your spouse’s adulterous behavior, your conduct can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. For example, if you seek revenge on your cheating spouse by committing adultery also, or you “forgive” your spouse, he or she can raise a defense of recrimination (where both spouses commit adultery) or condonation (when you have sexual relations with your spouse after learning of the adulterous act). These are two of several defenses that a cheating spouse can raise and, if successful, the court will not be able to grant you a divorce based on adultery.
Proving Adultery in Virginia
Proving adultery in Virginia can be difficult and obtaining the kind of evidence needed to prove it is challenging. Adultery is limited to sexual intercourse outside the marriage and is classified as a crime in Virginia. Though rarely prosecuted, its criminal status means that the court requires a higher-than-normal burden of proof to find that adultery occurred. To obtain a divorce based on adultery, the accusing spouse must prove to a court by “clear and convincing” evidence that the adulterous act occurred. Statements from your spouse admitting to having sex with someone else, emails between your spouse and a paramour, and photographs of sexual encounters between them are all examples of the type of evidence that can help you prove to a court that your spouse committed adultery. Gathering the right kind of evidence is one way the attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy can help protect you.
Contact a Virginia Divorce Attorney
If you plan to pursue a divorce on the grounds of adultery, it’s important to retain a Virginia divorce attorney with the right kind of experience in these matters. Contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy today to schedule an initial consultation.