Delegate Scott A. Surovell, a Fairfax family law attorney, has introduced House Bill 940 (HB 940) to decriminalize adultery in Virginia. Virginia Code Section 18.2-365 defines adultery as the act of a married person voluntarily engaging in sexual intercourse with any person not his or her spouse. Currently, adultery is punishable in Virginia as a Class 4 misdemeanor—which has serious repercussions for parties seeking to divorce their spouse based on the ground of adultery.
Because adultery is a crime in Virginia, a spouse accused of adultery in a divorce can assert their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, and refuse to answer questions about the adulterous behavior. This can make proving adultery in Virginia divorce cases extremely challenging. In effect, the criminal law against adultery serves to shield those accused of adultery in their divorce cases.
If HB 940 passes and becomes law, the penalty for committing adultery would … Read More »
When someone rear-ends you at a stoplight and you end up with a broken leg, they (or their auto insurance carrier) pay your medical bills, plus a little extra for your pain, suffering and inconvenience. If your doctor commits medical malpractice in the course of your healthcare, you are compensated in a similar fashion. If you slip on a wet floor at the supermarket, again, the supermarket may have a duty to make things right.
But what about a cheating spouse? Does the law compensate for a broken heart in the same way as a broken leg? Do Virginia courts require your wandering spouse to “make things right” in hard, monetary terms? Will a judge sway a divorce settlement in your favor since you are, after all, the wronged spouse?
In stark, unforgiving terms, your spouse’s infidelity does not require him … Read More »
If you believe your spouse is engaging in an extramarital sexual relationship, you are probably considering filing for divorce on the ground of adultery. Adultery is not only a ground for divorce in Virginia, but it is also a class four misdemeanor under Virginia Code § 18.2-365. While asserting the ground of adultery may seem like the most straightforward and beneficial path for your divorce suit, you should be aware from the outset of certain obstacles, and be prepared to carefully weigh the pros and cons of filing on this ground.
Let’s start with the pros. Filing for divorce on the ground of adultery may be personally cathartic for you. In so filing, you are definitively stating that your spouse has behaved badly in your marriage. Furthermore, you are forcing your spouse to defend his or her behavior, and you may … Read More »
“I logged on to her e-mail account and there are at least 20 e-mails from a Bill Morlok, who I have never met and do not know” or “I saw our cell phone bill and he has sent over 100 text messages to the same number I don’t recognize” is often enough “evidence” to convince a person their spouse is having an affair. Many people believe that showing continued communication with a mystery man or woman means an easy victory for granting a divorce on the ground of adultery. Unfortunately, it is not.
Virginia Law requires “clear and convincing evidence” that your partner has had sex with someone else, before the Court may grant you a divorce on the ground of adultery. To qualify as a divorce ground, your spouse’s affair must have become physical—culminating in sexual intercourse. Mental or emotional … Read More »