Short of your wife’s death, being cheated on is arguably the most difficult thing that could happen to your relationship. You will feel emotions like anger, hopelessness, sadness, confusion, rejection, and embarrassment flooding in and out. The breach of trust can shatter your entire world.
As a fault-based ground for divorce in VA, filing for divorce on the ground of adultery has no waiting period. If proven, adultery is known to have severe financial implications when it comes to spousal support. However, proving it might be tough.
Proving Adultery in VA
Under Virginia Code Annotated Sec. 20-91, an affair must have been physical and culminated in sexual intercourse to qualify as a ground for divorce. Since emotional and mental relationships don’t count, overfamiliarity isn’t enough. For a finding of adultery in Virginia, the law requires clear and convincing evidence, which means proving your wife had sexual intercourse with someone else.
Additionally, corroboration of the adultery is required by the law in Virginia. Evidence or testimony provided by an outside source supporting the allegation that your wife committed adultery is, therefore, necessary. Your word or her admission alone won’t suffice. Eyewitness testimony is however not required, meaning you can prove adultery using circumstantial evidence. E-mails and text messages showing your wife had a romantic relationship with someone else can help your case, but think twice before snooping.
An explicit admission by your wife, either directly to you upon confrontation or in a clearly worded e-mail or text message makes a strong core for your case. Remember, providing corroborating evidence such as photographs is still necessary even if your wife admits to adultery.
Possible Defenses to Adultery
Virginia law provides several potential defenses to the charge of adultery. If any of the following defenses is successfully established, the entry of divorce based on adultery will be barred.
Resuming sexual relations voluntarily and continuing to live together after learning that your wife cheated. If your wife claims you condoned her immoral behavior and the court believes it, you won’t be granted a divorce on the ground of adultery. Condonation basically means forgiveness and your decision to resume sexual intercourse and live together can be considered as an indication of forgiveness. However, post-condonation adultery might reactivate the adultery ground for divorce.
Connivance or procurement:
If you encouraged or facilitated the cheating in any way.
If it is proven you are guilty of any fault-based ground for divorce including adultery, cruelty, or desertion. If your wife proves you also engaged in adultery, she could use this form of defense.
As a ground for divorce, adultery carries a 5-year statute of limitations in Virginia. As such, if you file for divorce five years after the act of adultery, your suit will be denied.
The Fifth Amendment:
Under Code § 18.2-365, adultery is a class four misdemeanor in Virginia, and therefore a crime. As such, your wife can assert her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if accused of adultery. The criminal law against adultery might, therefore, serve to shield her in your divorce case.
The Effect of Adultery in Divorce Cases
Virginia law doesn’t exact punitive damages or fines from those found guilty of adultery. However, adultery might affect the distribution of your marital debts and assets slightly. When it comes to child custody and visitation, adultery rarely impacts the court’s ruling. Only on spousal support does adultery bear a significant effect.
Considering the potential effects of divorce, especially on the children, it is best to take every factor into account before you decide to divorce your wife. Refrain from making rash decisions and take the time necessary to work through the following steps:
To think and reflect, you need peace and quiet, which means removing yourself from distractions. Separating for a while is recommended. However, do not separate without an agreement. In your quest for solitude, do not leave the house before separating. Leaving the house before separation is abandonment.
Seek professional help
Uncovering complicated issues requires the expertise offered by support groups and professional counselors. With or without the desire to reconcile, a professional perception is often helpful and might boost your personal healing.
Consider your children
You must take into account what is best for your children. Despite your wife’s unfaithfulness, she is still their mother. Do not make your kids choose sides. Instead, let them know you tried to keep the family together. In spite of the difficulties, spend as much time as possible with your kids and assure them of your love.
Burying your feelings is not manly. Since putting on a face will not make your feelings disappear, you should open up. Although your feelings are legitimate, they will probably surface as bitterness later on if you don’t let them loose. Identify your feelings and express them appropriately.
Share your feelings
You should talk to a trustworthy person, someone you can be candid with about everything. Carefully select someone who is insightful, level-headed and a good listener. You need a friend who can bring sober clarity.
Confront your wife
Once under control, confront your wife. Expect her to place the blame on you. Try to express your feeling in a calm manner without holding back. Gather as much information as possible even if it takes several sessions.
As a Virginia-based firm fighting exclusively for the rights of men, The Firm For Men will ensure your rights are not infringed. We’re a team of divorce attorneys for men, focused on providing men with the best legal representation. If you want to file for divorce on the ground of adultery in Virginia, contact us at 757-383-9184. We’re located in the heart of Virginia Beach and are proud to serve all of Hampton Roads!