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Family Law & Divorce Attorneys in Virginia

Does Adultery Affect Alimony in Virginia?

Experienced Virginia Attorneys

If you're going through a divorce and have questions about alimony and adultery in VA, contact Malinowski Hubbard, PLLC.

Does a Cheating Spouse Get Alimony?

alimony virginiaIf you are headed toward divorce, and the reason for the breakdown of your marriage was adultery, you may be wondering, "Do you have to pay alimony if your spouse cheats?" Interestingly, every state treats adultery differently. Some states frown heavily upon adultery, while others are not interested in marital misconduct one iota unless it involves wasteful dissipation of marital assets.

Before we dive into the details of how Virginia views adultery, we want to say that alimony, which is called “spousal support” or “maintenance” in Virginia, is not automatic. Much of it concerns the higher-earning spouse’s financial ability to pay it and the lower-earning spouse’s needs. If there is a large discrepancy in income, there is a greater chance that alimony will be awarded.

Is Adultery a Crime in Virginia?

Adultery in Virginia is a Class 4 misdemeanor according to Virginia Code § 18.2-365. Although it is rarely prosecuted as a crime, the fact that adultery is considered illegal in Virginia can still have a significant impact on a divorce.

Virginia Alimony Laws

While some states, such as California, are not concerned with adultery in most divorce cases, Virginia views infidelity very differently.

So, Does Adultery Affect Alimony?

In Virginia, marital misconduct can play a significant role in an alimony decision. For example, if you earn more than your spouse but he or she cheated on you, but you were faithful, the court may not order you to pay permanent alimony to your unfaithful spouse.

Some people think that cheating can be an office flirtation or a racy Facebook affair. Please remember that for it to be “adultery,” the guilty spouse must have engaged in voluntary sexual intercourse with someone who is not their spouse. So, digital messages, such as emails, texts, and direct messages, do not constitute adultery if sexual intercourse never took place.

“Is there any way an innocent spouse can be ordered to pay?” Even if your spouse committed adultery, the judge can award alimony. Generally, this happens when considering the couple’s overall circumstances. It would be grossly unfair to deny alimony to a guilty spouse. However, this is often not the case, and the innocent spouse is not ordered to pay alimony.