If you are thinking of getting a divorce, you may wonder how cheating can affect your case. Adultery is one of the grounds for a fault-based divorce in Virginia, which means that it can have legal consequences for both spouses.
Eligibility for divorce
Virginia allows both no-fault and fault-based divorces. In a no-fault divorce, neither spouse must prove any wrongdoing by the other spouse to get a divorce. A fault-based divorce means that one spouse has to prove that the other spouse committed a marital fault, like adultery.
Division of marital property
Virginia does not split marital property equally. Instead, it does so fairly. When dividing marital property, the court considers several factors, such as the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, including any marital fault.
And, it is that factor where adultery can affect how marital property is divided. The court may award more property to the innocent spouse or less property to the cheating spouse as a way of compensating for the harm caused by adultery. However, this is not automatic or guaranteed.
The court has discretion to decide how much weight to give to adultery and other factors when dividing marital property.
Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, can be affected by the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, including any marital fault. This means that adultery can affect alimony.
There is one exception to this rule. If the cheating spouse can prove that the innocent spouse also committed adultery or another marital fault, then the court cannot award any alimony to either spouse, unless it would be manifestly unjust to do so.
Child custody and visitation
Child custody and visitation are determined by what is in the best interests of the child, not by the marital fault of either parent. This means adultery, by itself, does not affect child custody and visitation, unless it has a negative impact on the child’s welfare.