What Impact Does Adultery During Separation Have on Divorce in Georgia?

By Jeff Franco J.D./M.A./M.B.A.

Georgia law allows you to file for divorce on fault or no-fault grounds. One of the available fault grounds is the adulterous activity of your spouse during the marriage. The impact of adultery by your spouse during periods of separation, however, depends on a number of other factors. Regardless of whether your spouse commits adultery, you always have the option of expediting the process by filing on a no-fault ground.

Georgia law allows you to file for divorce on fault or no-fault grounds. One of the available fault grounds is the adulterous activity of your spouse during the marriage. The impact of adultery by your spouse during periods of separation, however, depends on a number of other factors. Regardless of whether your spouse commits adultery, you always have the option of expediting the process by filing on a no-fault ground.

No Fault

Filing for a divorce in Georgia on no-fault grounds doesn’t require you to prove to the court that your spouse is guilty of adultery in order to legally dissolve the marriage. You only need to show that your marriage is irretrievably broken. Provided you inform the court that there is no hope for reconciliation, Georgia judges will make no further inquiry into the reasons. Moreover, Georgia courts allow either spouse to file a divorce petition on no-fault grounds, even if the party filing the petition is the spouse who commits adultery during the separation.

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Adultery Grounds

Most couples in Georgia who file for a divorce use the no-fault ground since it minimizes the duration of the divorce proceedings and eliminates the emotional efforts involved when publicizing the intimacies of your marriage and the resulting adultery to the court. However, there are benefits to filing your petition on fault grounds if you can prove adultery, as Georgia courts can rule in your favor on issues like alimony and the distribution of marital assets. Since Georgia continues to recognize your legal marriage during periods of pre-divorce separation, the fact that your spouse commits the adultery during this separation period doesn’t preclude you from filing for divorce on adultery grounds.

Proof

In reality, proving that the post-separation adultery was predominantly responsible for the breakdown of your marriage is difficult. When the adultery doesn’t occur prior to the separation, the court will assume there are other reasons that caused you and your spouse to separate initially. Moreover, despite the fact that Georgia courts rely on circumstantial evidence in cases of adultery, it’s still extremely challenging to prove your spouse's infidelity. Proof of adultery prior to separation will be much more relevant to the court.

Alimony & Marital Assets

In the event you do convince the court that your spouse's adultery caused the breakdown of your marriage, Georgia judges have the authority to stray from the typical 50/50 split of marital assets and award you a larger percentage. The court can also prohibit your spouse, solely as a result of her adultery, from obtaining an alimony award, regardless of your relative financial positions after the divorce.

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Adultery Divorce Laws

References

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What If You Don't Admit to Adultery in a Divorce Case?

Deciding whether to admit to adultery during divorce proceedings is a personal decision, and one that ultimately, will not affect your ability to get a divorce. On the one hand, if you admit to adultery, you may speed up the divorce process, and you won't have to defend suspicious text messages or emails in court. On the other hand, state laws may favor the innocent spouse when it comes to the divorce settlement – meaning, that you may lose out on alimony or marital property, if you admit to having an affair.

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Almost every state has its own version of both fault and no-fault divorces. No-fault divorce is the result of widespread reformation of divorce laws that began during the 1970s. By the mid 1980s, almost every state had its own version of no-fault divorce on the books. Nuances in state law make it extremely important for individuals to be aware of the divorce law within the state where they live. Generally speaking, there are basic tenets involved in a fault and no-fault divorce, no matter which state you call home.

Fault Vs. Non-fault Divorce

Not all states offer a choice between fault and no-fault grounds when you file for divorce. Some, such as California, don't recognize any fault grounds. All states do offer a no-fault divorce, however. A few pros and cons exist as to which is most beneficial to use, depending on your personal circumstances.

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