Family Law and Divorce Attorneys in Virginia

Does Adultery Affect Alimony in Virginia?

If you are headed toward divorce, and the reason for the breakdown of your marriage was adultery, you may be wondering if cheating can impact a guilty spouse’s entitlement to alimony. Interestingly, every state treats adultery differently. Some states frown heavily upon adultery, while others are not interested in marital misconduct one iota unless it involved wasteful dissipation of marital assets.

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

How Cheating Impacts Alimony in Virginia

While some states, such as California, are not concerned with adultery in most divorce cases, Virginia views infidelity very differently. In Virginia, marital misconduct can play a major 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 adulterous 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, it is possible for the judge to 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 any alimony.

To learn more about alimony in a Fairfax divorce, contact Malinowski Hubbard, PLLC.

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