How does adultery in Georgia factor into a divorce?
Any claim of adultery must be substantiated. If you suspect infidelity, with the aid of effective counsel, it may have significant impact on the outcome of the case making it essential and of vital importance to the overall case strategy.
Is my spouse cheating?
What are some of the signs of an affair/adultery?
Have you seen any suspicious behavior like inappropriate emails, texts, or changes to work schedules? Monitor the bank accounts, credit cards, hotel/airline points to note any changes in activity. A pattern should be seen. Another sign of an affair is often the cheating party becomes accusatory of the non-cheating party-overly hostile or even accusing of having an affair to project their own faults onto the non-cheating spouse.
What to do if you suspect your spouse is cheating?
Gather evidence: screenshot inappropriate communications, monitor the financial accounts. Speak with an attorney first to be sure you aren’t breaking any laws in terms of illegal wiretapping, etc. Evidence, while difficult to obtain, is unfortunately a key component in your case. It not only helps for trial purposes but is compelling in terms of settlement negotiations. Potentially weigh the cost of hiring a private investigator to confirm an affair is being had, especially if the contact between the cheating spouse and paramour could be explained by work meetings/being colleagues.
Effects of adultery on alimony
How is adultery defined in Georgia?
This can be a gray area depending on the judge. If you have discovered your spouse cheating, it is an emotional trauma. Most of the time you aren’t thinking straight and will make poor decisions. One common decision the injured spouse immediately makes is to resume sexual relations with the adulterer. When that happens, the injured spouse has essentially condoned the behavior of the adulterer. This, in turn, complicates the injured spouse’s claims of adultery. This is called condonation and is a defense to adultery. Although there is a legal definition, adultery in Georgia is established with a two prong test. The first prong requires establishing sexual intercourse. The second prong requires establishing the affair is the cause of the separation of the spouses.
It’s actual sexual intercourse, but in more conservative courts, you may be able to infer more activity than can be proved if there is enough smoke to infer there’s fire. It is rare that any case involves actual proof of the smoking gun of catching the two in bed together.
Is adultery a bar to alimony?
If you are the spouse who needs to receive alimony, adultery is a bar to alimony under the alimony statute. It is possible to convince a judge to use equitable division to restore the balance of equities with the right facts. We often see alimony for clients if there is incredible discrepancy in incomes, so a mediator may also help craft a fair agreement. This can be justified because the court has to find that the adultery was the cause of the separation, and sometimes it’s simply a symptom of the underlying problems of the marriage. Furthermore, and more often than not, the adultery has been condoned as the parties resume marital relations after the affair was discovered.
Effects of adultery on equitable division.
This is a rare issue which will sway a Judge’s decision. It is important to understand your Judge’s bias and prejudices. A jury may also decide the issue of equitable division of property and that can get more complicated and expensive.
If you drink all your marital money away/gamble it away/purchase lavish gifts and/or trips for your paramour, then the amount that can be traced, usually in the last year (there is case law on this), could be taken into consideration as you already spent that portion of an equitable division. So, if you’re looking at a 50/50 divide, maybe your final split is 60(non-cheating)/40 (cheater).
Dating before divorce is finalized
Dating before your divorce is finalized is risky, but the best practice is to use common sense, as the scenario depends on how long your case is pending. If you committed adultery and the other party is clearly upset, continuing to date while the litigation is ongoing, especially while negotiations are ongoing, is salt on an open wound. Naturally this doesn’t bode well for an amicable outcome, in, or out of the courtroom.
How adultery can affect your divorce.
Adultery can make divorce more emotionally charged, which extrapolates to a more litigious process. Time is your friend. The more time between the adultery, especially when the other spouse finds out about it and the divorce filing, the settlement discussions, and/or a hearing, usually the less emotional people are about the adultery and the self-reflection that the marriage was breaking down and the adultery was a sign of bigger problems, not the cause. This is not the case if you neglected the child to pursue the affair (i.e., missed parenting time, forgot to pick them up from school, exposed the child to sexualized behavior-like having sex in front of the child), engage in prostitution/hire escorts, or have a revolving door of encounters. This can be a situation where sexual addiction could be in play and therapy may be recommended to rehab the client’s image as a parent, or change the dynamic going into court.