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  • Ross & Beckman, PLC.

Will the Virginia courts punish your cheating ex in a divorce?

Your marital vows likely included a promise to remain faithful to one another. The sad truth is that many people fail to uphold that vow. Sexual and emotional infidelity are among the top reasons that modern couples call it quits.

Those who married prior to infidelity will have a more difficult process of getting away from the cheater who destroyed their trust when compared with unmarried couples. Spouses will have to go through court to deal with splitting up their personal property and possibly handling custody matters for the children they have together.

Can you count on the Virginia courts to punish your ex for their infidelity?


Adultery can affect financial decisions

If a divorcing couple in Virginia can’t reach their own solution for property division, then they have to litigate and ask a judge to make a decision based on their family circumstances. Under the state property division statute, judges should try to handle that process in a fair way.

A fair solution may have to take into consideration the misconduct of one spouse or their dissipation or wasteful use of marital assets to conduct the affair. If you have concrete proof of infidelity and wasteful spending, that may influence how the courts divide your property.


Infidelity likely won’t affect custody issues

As unpleasant as it is to learn, you can anticipate sharing custody with your cheating ex in most scenarios. Although the courts have historically considered cheating parents to be morally unfit, that practice has long since fallen out of favor.

Judges should make custody decisions based on what the children need, which is usually a relationship with both parents even if one has displayed unethical behavior in the past. Only if your spouse somehow endangers your children through their infidelity will it play a role in custody decisions.

Although Virginia does have a law criminalizing adultery, it is rarely enforced. You may need to think about how fighting over this issue could increase what you spend on the divorce and limit your available resources later. Looking to set yourself up for a better future without your cheater may be a better revenge for infidelity than trying to illicit penalties from the courts during your divorce.

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