Fraud Blocker

Are You Suspicious of Your Spouse in Virginia?

Virginia is for lovers. Marriage is for lovers. In Virginia, sometimes people get involved with lovers who they aren’t married to. Their spouse isn’t so happy. If you’ve been noticing that your spouse smells different, has all of a sudden become obsessed with the gym and/or recently became overly protective of their phone, a new law makes it easier than in the past to prove the grounds of adultery in Virginia divorces.

As we covered in our Free Resource, divorce works a little bit differently in Virginia. You have to file for divorce under certain “grounds,” or a specific reason that prompted the divorce. If you choose to file under the “no fault” grounds – meaning there was no outside influence and things just didn’t work out – you have to wait through a year of separation before you can file for divorce, unless you have a signed Property Settlement Agreement (“PSA”) and no minor children in which case you can file after six months of separation. If you file under another, more serious grounds, you can file for divorce immediately.

In Virginia, adultery is a crime. Cheating on your spouse is committing a legal crime. Consequently, adultery is one of the grounds for filing for divorce. Since your spouse has broken your marriage and broken the law, you can immediately file for divorce.

It is one thing to file for divorce under fault grounds, and an entirely different, more difficult task to get a divorce granted on fault grounds. Historically, adultery has been a little bit more difficult to prove than abandonment or other relevant grounds. Previously, those in court could “plead the Fifth” – invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and avoid answering the question about whether or not they engaged in adultery. It made proving adultery very difficult.

A new law passed on July 1st, 2020 changed that. Now, when someone pleads the Fifth and chooses not to answer the question in court about adultery, the Judge can make an “inference of guilt.” This means that the Judge can assume that if the person was innocent of adultery, they would just say so – and if they choose not to say anything, they are guilty.

This makes a huge difference in the Virginia divorce system. Now, if you accuse your spouse of adultery, they have to either admit the truth or suggest it by omission. It means that individuals whose marriage was torn apart by the adulterous activities of their spouse can more easily get a divorce granted on those grounds. Further, proving adultery (or other fault grounds) can be a bar to spousal support, and is also a factor for the court to consider in making an equitable distribution award, i.e. dividing marital assets and debts.. In the eyes of the law, any adultery committed within the past five years of filing counts as legitimate.

At Rinehart Bryant, PLLC, we are here for you in the moments in which you feel that your marriage is irretrievably broken whether due to adultery or otherwise. For help with any Virginia divorce concerns, contact Rinehart Bryant, PLLC today! We help you like family would.

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