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Can adultery affect your divorce settlement?

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2022 | Family Law |

Adultery does not necessarily lead to the end of a marriage when a couple agrees to work at healing the wounds it leaves behind. However, spouses in Virginia who see infidelity as a critical factor in their decision often believe they have the upper hand when negotiating a divorce.

Although adultery can destroy a marriage, you may wonder if it impacts these aspects of your divorce.

Child custody

Most judges will not consider adulterous behavior when making child custody decisions unless it exposes a child to dangerous conditions. Instead, custody rulings involve consideration of various factors that ensure a child’s physical and emotional welfare. Therefore, regardless of either parent’s adulterous behavior, a judge may grant custody to either or both parents.

Property division

An adulterous relationship that diminishes a family’s resources could sway a judge to veer away from Virginia’s standard equitable property division precedent and award a more significant share of the marital assets to a non-adulterous spouse. Otherwise, if adulterous behavior does not impact the couple’s finances, judges will apply standard equitable division guidelines for property and assets.

Spousal support

A  judge may rule that one spouse receives financial support payments from the other in consideration of various circumstances. For example, the marriage’s duration, paying for a spouse’s education or interrupting a career to stay home with children, and the general standard of living during the marriage are influential factors. However, meeting these conditions does not automatically entitle someone to spousal support. The court waives all rights to spousal support to adulterous spouses regardless of either’s income potential.

Spouses ending their marriage due to an adulterous relationship are exempt from a waiting period before filing. Still, working together to negotiate a settlement is the fastest way to dissolve your marriage and proceed with your life.

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