Adultery is defined state wide by Virginia law as having sexual relations with a person who is not their spouse. Adultery is unfortunately a common reason for divorce in Fairfax, and divorce cases involving adultery can be tense and complicated. If you need representation for a divorce as a result of adultery, contact a highly skilled divorce lawyer so they help you reach the outcome that you desire.
Adultery Divorce Petition
Individuals who cite adultery as their grounds for divorce would refer to an adultery divorce petition, which is a complaint for divorce. It is the paper that one files to commence a divorce case in Fairfax and in Virginia statewide.
There is not much that is different in terms of how a case is handled when adultery is alleged than another means of divorce. A party is required to show by clear and convincing evidence that the adultery has occurred. Adultery can also play in as it relates to spousal support because, in most cases, adultery is an absolute bar to the person committing adultery receiving spousal support. Other than that, the impact of adultery in the context of a divorce case is relatively limited.
Division of Assets
Adultery has some impact on the division of assets. It may matter when there is a financial connection between the adultery and the marital state, for example, that would be scenario where a spouse is cheating with a paramour and buys the paramour gifts with marital money or takes the paramour on vacation with marital funds. Other than that, adultery does not impact property division.
Adultery must be proven by clear and convincing evidence, which is a high burden of proof. It will not be enough if a party has copies of text messages where their spouse and the alleged paramour had been having general conversations or talking about going places. The kinds of evidence that a party needs to prove in order to successfully establish adultery would be things like an admission of the paramour or the photographic or other evidence of the parties engaging in sexual acts.
Adultery vs. Abandonment
Adultery and abandonment are two separate things even though it is typically implicit by somebody cheating that they are no longer in the marriage. These two things are typically treated as separate issues in Fairfax adultery divorces. Adultery is having sexual relations with a person who is not the spouse, abandonment is leaving the marriage, moving out of the house, and potentially having relations after that. If a spouse cheats on the other spouse and leaves the home then the abandoned spouse has both adultery and desertion as grounds for divorce that they can claim.
Existing Spousal Conflict
Typically speaking, the court does not get into delineation of existing spousal conflict when considering Fairfax adultery divorces. However, in order to obtain an adultery-based divorce, it is not enough to show that the spouse has been cheating; a person also has to show that that cheating is what caused the dissolution of the marriage. As a result, if the parties separate and then one of the spouses commences sexual activity with a third party, then in that circumstance the court may not grant the divorce adultery grounds, but rather might see the adultery as post-separation and therefore not a part of the breakdown of the marriage.
Role of Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation
Mediation and arbitration are always useful means to resolve the case in the most beneficial way for the parties because the parties typically save a lot of money as compared to litigation and they have control of the outcome of the case. If the parties are able to settle their case in mediation and may be even in arbitration, which is a process that has a binding resolution, oftentimes adultery does not come into play. If the parties execute a settlement agreement, it is often, if not always, expected that the fault-based grounds of divorce will be dropped by the person alleging them.
However, if there is an adultery-based divorce in Fairfax and the case is litigated, then typically speaking, the complaining spouse can proceed with their evidence on adultery and the court can find that the breakdown of the marriage resulted from adultery. It is important to note, though, that even if a party establishes that there has been adultery, the court is not required to grant a divorce based on adultery. The court can, at its discretion, base the divorce on a one-year separation even when adultery has been proven.