Is Adultery a Major Consideration in a Divorce in VA?

by Beverly Bird
Under some circumstances, adultery can cost you your full share of marital property in Virginia.

Under some circumstances, adultery can cost you your full share of marital property in Virginia.

Digital Vision/Photodisc/Getty Images

Some states are rather forgiving when it comes to divorce and adultery. These are typically the pure no-fault states that don't recognize any form of marital misconduct as grounds. However, Virginia isn't a pure no-fault state, and its laws regarding adultery might have a significant effect on your divorce.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Effect on Alimony

At one point in Virginia's history, committing adultery completely prohibited a spouse from receiving alimony. The law is now more lenient, but this type of marital misconduct still matters. The law still leans toward not awarding support to an adulterous spouse, but it now allows for extenuating circumstances. If a spouse has a genuine need for support – she'd be left virtually penniless without alimony – and if the other spouse equally contributed to the breakdown of the marriage, the court can award alimony anyway.

Effect on Property Distribution

Adultery may also have an effect on property division in Virginia. It's an equitable distribution state, so assets are distributed between spouses in a way that the court considers fair. The division is not an exact science, but subject to the discretion of a judge. The judge can consider a spouse's adultery if it had a negative economic impact on the marriage, such as if the guilty party wasted marital money on her paramour.

Legal Bars

Five years after it occurs, you can no longer use adultery as grounds for divorce in Virginia. It won't be recognized as grounds if the spouse who files for divorce continued the marital relationship after finding out, or if he committed adultery as well.