Can you be charged with adultery if you date during your separation?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2022 | Divorce

Getting a divorce in Virginia can be a lengthy and frustrating process. You need your situation to meet one of the fault-based standards for divorce or separate from your spouse for a full year (or at least 6 months if certain conditions are met) to pursue a no-fault divorce.

Living on your own for 12 months can be lonely and frustrating. Many people start thinking about dating during their separation. After all, they are on the way to divorce and have no intention of reconciling with their spouse. Do you have to worry about allegations of adultery and possibly criminal prosecution if you start dating after separating from your spouse in Virginia?

Adultery is still technically a crime in Virginia

Most states in the country no longer have criminal statutes related to marital infidelity, making Virginia one of the remaining few that criminalize adultery. If a married individual has proof that their spouse has an intimate relationship with someone else, they could make accusations that ccan have significant legal ramifications.

It is highly unlikely that adultery claims in Virginia would lead to jail time or other major criminal penalties. It is more likely that your spouse will use their allegations of adultery to speed up your divorce, jeopardize any claim for spousal support, and make the divorce more favorable for them. Your spouse could divorce you for cheating.

Instead of finishing out your one-year separation and finalizing a no-fault divorce, you could face a fault-based filing in which your spouse claims you destroyed the marriage by cheating. Not only could their allegations lead to a family law ruling declaring you at fault for the divorce, but those allegations could also affect other aspects of the divorce.

For example, there could be financial implications. Judges may consider your new relationship which appears adulterous while deciding how to divide marital property or resolving your spouse’s claim for support from you.  Adultery (as well as sodomy and buggery) can also negate your claim for spousal support.

Waiting to date is usually safer

While it may be lonely waiting a full year after separating from your spouse to finalize your divorce, you can use that time to heal yourself emotionally and rebuild your life. Then you will be in a much better position to pursue a happy and healthy relationship when you no longer have any legal ties or liabilities stemming from your marriage.  Also, the separation period is an excellent time for trying to see if a settlement agreement can be reached.

Learning more about Virginia divorce laws can help you avoid mistakes that could hurt your legal case.



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