It’s always devastating to learn of a spouse’s infidelity — even after you’ve already decided to pursue divorce. Unfortunately, this discovery can create additional difficulties in an already tense situation. Does infidelity count as grounds for divorce if you weren’t originally aware of it? Can you change up your approach this late in the game? There is no simple answer, but you’ll find valuable insight below:
Grounds-Based Divorce Proceedings
There are limited grounds for divorce in Virginia. Adultery counts, as do ‘sodomy and buggery.’ The Code of Virginia does not specifically mandate when you should discover your spouse’s infidelity to file on grounds of adultery.
If you file for divorce on grounds of adultery, don’t expect a higher alimony settlement. While adultery may be taken into consideration when awarding alimony, it’s not necessarily a top factor. Adultery could impact custody if the court believes your spouse’s behavior harmed your children.
Although you may qualify to divorce on grounds of adultery, this approach isn’t always preferable. Conflict permeates this type of divorce, so securing an amicable settlement through mediation can be difficult. Furthermore, you may lack sufficient evidence of an affair at this point in the proceedings.
When to Change Grounds For Divorce
Before you knew about your spouse’s affair, you probably aimed for a no-fault divorce. Now that everything has changed, it’s critical that you make your decision about divorcing on grounds quickly. Meet with an attorney first to discuss possible implications.
If you choose to divorce on grounds of adultery, you can alter your divorce at any point before it’s finalized. Sooner is nearly always better. Once the divorce is finalized, you’ll find it difficult to amend the settlement.
If your spouse refuses to admit to his or her affair, it’s up to you and your attorney to find sufficient proof. In Virginia, this could mean evidence on social media or public displays of affection. These types of evidence may be referred to as proof of disposition. Unfortunately, without proof of opportunity (such as catching your spouse in the act or seeing him or her enter the paramour’s home), you may struggle to convince the court of an affair.
You never know what can happen during the divorce process, but a loyal legal advocate can shelter you from the worst hazards. Look to DiPietro Family Law for strong divorce representation in Virginia, no matter the circumstances.