Today I’m going to share with you Adultery Laws in Virginia Does Cheating Affect Alimony?
Marriage is more than the union of love, it is also a legal agreement that makes the termination of marriage a legal procedure as well. Divorce is a complex, multi-layered process that includes battles like division of property, alimony arrangements, child custody battles, etc. along with the emotional battles that are fought by both parties.
This emotionally draining only gets worse if there is any type of adultery or infidelity involved in the separation. Adultery can be best understood as extra-marital relationships. This article deals with adultery laws in Virginia while taking a comprehensive look into these legal terms and procedures alongside answering questions like how to prove adultery in Virginia, what is the legality of adultery in Virginia, etc.
Adultery Laws in Virginia:
Can You Go to Jail for Adultery in Virginia?
Adultery in Virginia is more prevalent than one would like or expect. It is undeniable that adultery is seen as a social taboo by the majority but everyone defines adultery differently. Some people include emotional infidelity under the umbrella while some argue that kissing outside the marriage shouldn’t be called adultery.
In the very same way, different states in the U.S. see, define and charge adultery differently. We are going to be discussing adultery laws in Virginia here.
In correspondence to Virginia code (§ 20-91.), adultery in Virginia is described as sexual intercourse between a married person with someone who is not their legal partner. It is crucial to understand that only physical affairs and not emotional infidelity count for adultery in Virginia.
So, do adultery laws in Virginia state that adultery is a crime? Indeed they do. Virginia Code § 18.2-365 classifies adultery as a class 4 misdemeanour.
It is important to note that like almost all class 4 misdemeanours, adultery, although a crime according to adultery laws in Virginia, is a non-jail offence. Adultery is hardly prosecuted in Virginia, very similar to almost all states that classify adultery as a misdemeanour or felony.
To, answer the question: Can you go to jail for adultery in Virginia? No, you won’t be sent to jail but if proven in court, owing to adultery laws in Virginia, it may have varying effects on various segments of your divorce. Not to forget the social and mental damage that the title of a cheater has on a person’s life.
Divorce as Grounds for Adultery in Virginia:
For a long time, adultery laws in Virginia made it compulsory for the separating couple to present a valid reason for the termination of their marriage which had to be approved by the court in order for the marriage to legally end.
This rule made the divorce process more complex and bitter and for that very same reason, no-fault divorces have been introduced in all states of the U.S. No-fault divorces lets couples terminate marriages without presenting a “valid” reason for the same, they can state that marriage is just not working out due to irreconcilable reasons.
Many couples involved in adultery in Virginia who want to put the entire divorce behind opt for no-fault divorces. Irrespective of this provision, there are many whose resentments, betrayal and anger towards their unfaithful spouse rule out this option.
Adultery laws in Virginia do allow spouses to opt for adultery as grounds for their divorce in accordance with Virginia Code § 20-91. But to do so, one needs to prove the other spouse’s adultery actions to the high standard set by adultery laws in Virginia.
How to Prove Adultery in Virginia?
Adultery laws in Virginia are extremely strict. According to them, there needs to be clear and convincing evidence to prove the alleged adulterous behaviour of a spouse for it to be recognized in any divorce proceedings.
Any evidence presented to the court should indicate the participation in sexual intercourse for it to contribute significantly to adultery allegations and the adultery laws in Virginia have difficult standards to meet for the non-cheating spouse to meet. So, how to prove adultery in Virginia?
Texts, emails, photographs or videos that clearly indicate one spouse’s extra-marital affair which has involved sexual intercourse is important, the latter being a compulsion. Flirtatious texts, emails or records of the exchange of inappropriate pictures is not a clear indication that the two parties have engaged in sexual intercourse.
It is important to note that this type of evidence can be used to aid clear proof, meaning that after having clear proof like acceptance of committing adultery via text, inappropriate texts and email exchanges between the unfaithful spouse with his or her paramour can be used to put focus on the intensity of the adultery committed.
This aiding evidence is generally referred to as corroborating evidence. Now, the question arises, how to prove adultery in Virginia with the help of corroborating evidence?
Adultery laws in Virginia have made it mandatory to present corroborating evidence in divorce courts. Corroborating evidence refers to proof of adultery apart from the word of mouth of the faithful spouse and the admission of guilt by the unfaithful one. These include photographs, videos, etc.
Such evidence is difficult to obtain first-hand and that is why many people involved in cases regarding adultery in Virginia resort to private investigators for the same. Getting strong and incriminating evidence is extremely important to prove adultery in Virginia courts.
Defence to Allegations of Adultery in Virginia:
The law provides provisions for a person accused of adultery to clear his or her name out of the hot mess that adultery is. The following defences are available to the accused by adultery laws in Virginia which make proving adulterous behaviour extremely hard:
- Condonation: If a couple resumes sexual relations with each other in addition to living together again after the discovery of either spouse’s engagement in adultery in Virginia, it is termed as connotation.
- Connivance or Procurement: This is defined as the encouragement by the ‘faithful” spouse towards the affair. For instance, consensual open marriages fall under this category.
- Recrimination: Adultery laws in Virginia define recrimination as proof against the accusing spouse of being involved and guilty of a fault-based ground for divorce. “Grounds” for divorce, like discussed, in the simplest terms, refers to the reason for divorce presented in court. There are mainly three grounds for divorce: adultery, abandonment or will dissertation and cruelty or conviction of felony and confinement following the same.
- Time-Barred: There is a statute of limitations in adultery in Virginia. This means that if adultery had taken place five years before the filing of divorce, it cannot be used as grounds for divorce.
- The Fifth Amendment: In addition to being a major social taboo, adultery in Virginia, as discussed above is also a crime. Adultery laws in Virginia classify the crime as a class 4 misdemeanour. Even though adultery in Virginia is rarely prosecuted, it is still a crime in the eyes of law and this gives an added defence to the cheating spouse in court as he or she can as adultery laws in Virginia state “plead the fifth”. So, what does pleading the fifth mean? It is reflected in the fifth amendment. The fifth amendment of The United States Constitution was brought into action to protect all U.S. citizens from self-incrimination. Self-incrimination can be easily described as the act of exposing one’s own self during testimony. If a spouse pleads the fifth in court, he or she can not be forced to talk or testify regarding their accusations under oath so they don’t, even accidentally end up exposing himself or herself. This makes proving adultery in Virginia extremely difficult.
Impact on Divorce by Adultery in Virginia:
As mentioned above, divorce is a multi-layered process and choosing adultery as grounds for divorce increases the depth of these layers further. Even though adultery in Virginia is a crime, it is not prosecuted and thus it may seem that it doesn’t have any direct implications on the unfaithful spouse but adultery does affect various faucets like spousal maintenance, property division, etc.
- Effect on Child Custody by Adultery in Virginia:
Divorce has devastating emotional psychological effects on children which cannot be ignored. A child custody battle is the fight for the legal guardianship of children post-divorce. The judgement for child custody battles is made solely on the basis of the best interests of the child.
Adultery laws in Virginia do not discriminate against the cheating spouse in child custody battles and they have the same right and chance to gain guardianship of their kid.
If the affair affects the children in any way meaning if it has occurred in front of or discovered by the children which have caused them emotional distress, or the affair has made the cheating spouse lose interest in the child’s life or any other circumstance which can negatively impact the development of the kid, it might be used against them by the faithful spouse.
Generally, due to the nature of adultery laws in Virginia, adultery does not affect the child custody battle but it indeed has the potential to. The court, in many cases, doesn’t allow the cheating spouse’s partner to see the child for a good while after the divorce to give the child time to adjust to the separation.
- Effect on Property Decisions by Adultery in Virginia:
Shared or marital property is distributed during divorce. On paper, Virginia identifies as an equitable distribution state. Equitable distribution refers to the division of property fairly in contrast to community property division which divides the shared marital property into two equal halves.
This fair division does account for adultery in the division of shared assets and debts. They review the earning potential, current income and needs during the division.
If the unfaithful spouse has used the shared financial resources of the married couple to enable the affair in any way, the adultery laws in Virginia do consider it while making property decisions for the split. Lavish gifts showered on the paramour, romantic trips, etc. are examples of such behaviour.
- Effect on Alimony or Spousal Support by Adultery in Virginia:
Alimony, also known as spousal support can be best understood as a pre-decided sum of money decided by the court that needs to be paid periodically by one spouse, generally, the financially more stable to the other to ensure that the latter can make ends meet post-divorce.
It should be noted that adultery laws in Virginia do not provide an alimony calculator. Each case is individually reviewed in correspondence with the adultery laws in Virginia and a decision is made by the judge. For couples involved in adultery in Virginia, alimony is deeply affected by the unfaithful actions committed during the course of their marriage.
If the grounds for divorce is filed as adultery in Virginia, the court is more likely to deny the unfaithful spouse any permanent spousal support, meaning that the faithful spouse is not expected to pay alimony for his or her spouse if he or she has committed adultery during their marriage and it has been proved in court.
There are exceptions to this rule as well, there is a chance that the judge might review the overall guilt and economic situations of both spouses and feel that denying any kind of financial support to the adulterous spouse will be manifesting injustice, he or she may still allow for alimony to be paid to the unfaithful spouse.
Also Read – Common Law Marriage in Alabama: Is It Legal?
Frequently Asked Questions:
Some frequently asked questions regarding adultery laws in Virginia have been answered below:
1. Can You Go to Jail for Adultery in Virginia?
Even though adultery laws in Virginia classify the act of adultery as a class 4 misdemeanour, meaning a crime in a broad sense, it is hardly prosecuted. Most class 2 misdemeanours in Virginia are non-jail offences which means that the prosecuted cannot be imprisoned for their acts.
2. How to Prove Adultery in Virginia?
Proving adultery in Virginia is extremely difficult due to the strict definitions and defences that are described in the law. Clear corroborating evidence apart from the testimony of the faithful spouse or proof of verbal admission of guilt by the guilty spouse on any platform is required for the court to identify the act of adultery being committed.
3. What Is the Statute of Limitations on Adultery in Virginia?
The statute of limitations on adultery in Virginia is five years, meaning that if the couple has filed for divorce after five years of the act of adultery, it cannot be used as grounds for divorce.
4. Does Adultery Affect Alimony?
Alimony is indeed affected by adultery in Virginia. Getting cheated on does not assure you alimony or spousal support but it does give the right to the judge to revoke alimony that is to be given to the cheating spouse by the faithful one.
5. Is Child Support Affected by Adultery in Virginia?
Adultery laws in Virginia do not let adulterous acts affect a spouse’s standing in child custody battles. The only way that the affair can affect the battle is if the new partner of the unfaithful spouse or the new relationship on its own has the potential to or has already harmed the development of the child or children in any way.
It is important to remember that child custody decisions are made on the basis of the best interests of the child alone.
6. Do Adultery Laws in Virginia Give Preference to the Faithful Spouse During the Distribution of Property?
Virginia as a state identifies itself as an equitable distribution state in terms of martial distribution of shared property among divorcing spouses, meaning that it divides property between the two spouses fairly. This fair distribution may not always lead to an equal split of assets and debts.
During this fair distribution, the proven act of adultery may not affect the judgement but if it is proved in court that the unfaithful spouse had used shared financial sources to aid his or her affair without his or her legal partner’s knowledge or provided gifts to his or her paramour, it is definitely accounted for during the separation and is generally reduced from the cheating spouse’s share of the divided property.
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Ending the Article:
Divorce battles are never easy. Adultery is one of the major reasons for separation between married couples which complicates the divorce further.
It is important to keep one’s emotions in control during divorce hearings as one’s behaviour in court shapes the candidate’s image in the judge’s mind which is a very important aspect in divorce battles and settlements.
It is also important to take care of your mental health during times like these such as depression, isolation, anxiety and numerous other mental health issues closely surrounding a divorce that can pounce on you during times of self-doubt and despair. This can be achieved by starting therapy and surrounding oneself around people one can trust and love.
A well-researched and practical approach to divorce as complicated as adultery ridden ones is extremely crucial as the end of a marriage is the beginning of a new phase of each spouse’s life.