Does Adultery Affect Alimony?

divorcing couple
Jun 26, 2024 | Content

If adultery was a factor in the end of your marriage, it could also be a factor in your divorce. A judge can consider spousal misconduct when deciding child custody, property division, and alimony. Speak with an experienced divorce attorney to learn how cheating could impact the final orders in your divorce.

Requesting Alimony in Georgia

Alimony or spousal support is money someone receives from their former spouse for their living expenses after a divorce. In the past, a husband usually paid alimony to a wife, and almost every divorce involved alimony payments for the foreseeable future unless and until the former wife remarried.

The law is much different now. Either spouse can request alimony from the other. The award of alimony is at the court’s discretion. The person requesting the alimony must prove that they need it to support themselves and that the other spouse can afford to pay.

Alimony is no longer meant to be paid forever or until remarriage. In most cases, a judge will award the needy spouse alimony for enough time for them to become self-sufficient. Some judges base the duration of alimony on the length of the marriage, such as one year of alimony for every three years the couple was married. Many factors impact the determination of alimony, including whether adultery took place.

An Adulterer Cannot Receive Alimony

Whether to award alimony, how much, and for how long is largely within the judge’s discretion. However, the Official Code of Georgia §19-6-1(b) removes judicial discretion when the marriage ends because of abandonment or adultery.

The law says that a person who commits adultery cannot receive alimony if cheating is the reason the marriage failed. The other spouse must prove adultery and show that the adultery ended the marriage. An unfaithful spouse could present proof that the couple continued to live together, have sexual relations, engaged in couples therapy, or present other evidence indicating that cheating is not the reason the marriage ended.

When the judge accepts that adultery killed a marriage, the unfaithful spouse cannot receive alimony regardless of the spouse’s relative financial circumstances.

The Impact of a Paying Spouse’s Adultery

When the spouse with more resources is the one who cheated, the impact on alimony is less predictable. The law leaves the decision in the hands of the judge, and they view the matter based on the circumstances of the case and their individual code.

Some judges might feel that adultery merits a penalty. They could award the innocent spouse more property or alimony than they would have if the more affluent spouse had not cheated. This scenario is more likely when the cheating spouse used marital assets to pay for the affair.

In many cases, the adultery will not impact the paying spouse. The judge would award alimony using the same criteria they use for other couples. Local divorce attorneys often have a good sense of how a judge sees these issues and could advise their client accordingly.

Work With a Skilled Attorney When Adultery Is a Factor in Your Divorce

In Georgia, courts can consider a spouse’s conduct when awarding alimony. The impact depends on whether the spouse requesting alimony is the innocent spouse or the adulterous spouse.

Proving adultery in divorce court can be messy and increase the hostility between the parties. However, when substantial alimony is at stake, sufficient motivation might exist.

Speak with a member of our legal team about how we can help you navigate adultery and alimony in your divorce. Schedule a consultation today.

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