Adultery in Virginia: What is considered adultery in Virginia? Penalty for adultery in Virginia. Charges of adultery in Virginia. How does Adultery impact Divorce cases. Can you get jailed for adultery in Virginia? Does adultery affect alimony in Virginia? Can I sue for Adultery in Virginia? How to prove adultery in Virginia.
Every state has different laws regarding adultery. Adultery is a worm that erodes the marriage relationship. It not only destroys the adulterers; but also deteriorates society’s morals and values. It is a moral and cultural wrong that affects the public at large.
If you are a victim of adultery or committed adultery, you should get aware of Adultery. You may be wondering what are Virginia laws and penalties for adultery? Does it have any impact on divorce proceedings?
Let us discuss adultery in Virginia to clarify all your doubts.
What is considered adultery in Virginia?
As in any other state, Virginia prohibits adultery.
Now the question arises, what is considered adultery under Virginia law? Adultery is a legal term used to define the unfaithful conduct of a married person.
Virginia code § 18.2-365 states when a married man or woman deliberately gets involved in sexual intercourse with a person, not their legally wedded partner, it is called adultery and liable to be punished as a misdemeanor of class 4.
Sexual intercourse is the essence of adultery and must be present; mere mental or emotional affairs are not adultery. Even hugging, kissing, and sexting does not count as adultery.
Under Virginia law, adultery is a crime and forbidden in the state. However, adultery rarely gets prosecuted in Virginia. Even the culprit does not get arrested and sent to jail for their deeds.
Besides, adultery is a valid justification of fault-based divorce under Virginia code § 20-91. Adultery is a crime and civil wrong that influences the outcomes of divorce proceedings.
Penalty for adultery in Virginia:
Like many other states, Virginia prohibits adultery.
Virginia code § 18.2-365 states that any married person, deliberately having sexual intercourse with another person, not being their spouse, shall be guilty of adultery and liable to be punished as a misdemeanor of class 4. The misdemeanour is the lowest unit of crime, generally minor wrongdoing or petty offences.
Virginia law prescribes a penalty of a maximum $ 250 fine. A person committing adultery does not get arrested and punished in jail. Although adultery is a crime in the criminal law of Virginia, it is exceptional to get prosecuted. As Virginia law requires you to prove adultery beyond any doubt, it becomes hard to make a person liable for cheating. Virginia’s law requires it to meet an intermediate standard of proof to establish adultery.
The burden of proof is so heavy that people lose hope and back off. Adultery primarily gets used to establish a fault divorce case. Thus, it is more a civil wrong.
Charges of adultery in Virginia:
Every society and religion recognizing monogamous marriages consider adultery as a crime. Crime gets divided into two categories:
A felony includes grave crimes, whereas misdemeanours are minor offences. In many states, adultery is considered a felony. They prescribe a punishment of more than one year of imprisonment with or without a fine.
However, some states consider adultery a misdemeanour with a punishment of less than 1-year jail or fine only.
Under Virginia law, adultery is penalised as a misdemeanour of class 4. The punishment for adultery under Virginia law is a penalty of $200 maximum. A person committing adultery does not get punished in imprisonment.
Although adultery gets charged as a misdemeanour, adultery exceptionally gets enforced in courts. Adultery plays an essential role in fault-based divorce.
How does Adultery impact Divorce cases:
A divorce under Virginia divorce laws gets divided into two categories:
- Fault divorce: a fault divorce required to prove the spouse’s guilt responsible for breaking the marriage. A fault-based divorce grounds include adultery, cheating and desertion, marital misconduct, and felony conviction.
- No-fault divorce: a no-fault divorce grants the divorce without blaming any party for breaking a marriage. The court grants divorce on the ground of irreconcilable issues and incapacity of the spouse.
Although Adultery is a crime, it is a valid ground in fault-based divorce cases(stated under Virginia code § 20-91.)
Even the parties need not wait for a year of separation; the divorce can be obtained at any time. Adultery highly influences the outcomes of divorces cases. Although it cannot affect child custody cases, it negatively impacts the result of the division of assets and spousal maintenance at the time of divorce.
- Distribution of assets:
While distributing marital assets between spouses, courts consider several factors; adultery is one of them. If adultery has caused any economic consequences, it influences the court’s decision.
If any spouse spent money out of joint assets for their infidelities such as vacations expense, restaurants bills, and shopping, the court determines the share considering these factors. The court ensures that you do not suffer any financial loss because of your spouse’s infidelity.
- Spousal support:
Alimony or spousal support gets awarded to ensure any spouse; unable to earn is not left destitute after divorce. Adultery influences the decision of the court while awarding alimony. In short, if you are the bread earner of your house and your spouse commits an extramarital affair, the court can deny the alimony regardless of the needs and condition of the spouse. The court can also make the adulterous spouse pay a large sum. Thus, proving adultery can benefit a person in financial matters concerning divorce.
Can you get jailed for adultery in Virginia?
Many times a question arises; can a person involved in an extramarital affair get sent to jail for committing adultery in Virginia?
The answer is no. Although adultery is forbidden and criminalised in Virginia, it imposes a fine only. Virginia code § 18.2-365 considers adultery as a misdemeanour of class 4 with a penalty of $200 maximum. Misdemeanour is the lowest category of crimes.
Although adultery is in criminal statutes in the Virginia Code, it rarely gets prosecuted in courts.
Thus a person can not get arrested or sent to jail for being involved in extramarital affairs.
Does adultery affect alimony in Virginia?
Alimony is financial support given to a spouse from another spouse considering the need and condition. Alimony ensures that no spouse is left destitute after divorce and maintains an equal standard of living. While determining the amount and duration of alimony, judges consider various factors mentioned in Virginia Code Ann. § 20-107.1 (E). These statues provide a list of factors to determine the amount of alimony.
Adultery impacted the court’s decision in divorcé proceedings. If a spouse is found guilty of committing adultery, the court can deny spousal support to the unfaithful spouse.
A court will not make an innocent spouse pay an unfaithful spouse. Thus adultery highly influences the court’s decisions concerning alimony in divorce proceedings.
Can I sue for Adultery in Virginia?
Virginia code § 18.2-365 contains a provision that states adultery is illegal. Adultery is a misdemeanour of class 4, with a maximum $200 fine penalty. These provisions give a spouse the right to bring their adulterous spouse in court. Thus any person can institute a suit against their spouse for committing adultery. Although you can sue for adultery, it is challenging to prove it.
Virginia law set an intermediate standard of proof to prove adultery. The burden of proof is so heavy that many people lose their cases. Thus instituting a suit is simple but proving it is not. It is the main reason why adultery rarely gets prosecuted in Virginia.
However, a spouse can also sue the unfaithful spouse and their lover for intentionally inflicting emotional stress or tortious conduct.
In short, you can sue your partner for committing adultery in Virginia.
How to prove adultery in Virginia:
Even though adultery rarely gets prosecuted in Virginia to prove adultery it requires to meet an intermediate standard of proof. Proving adultery is a challenging task in Virginia.
It requires the plaintiff to establish adultery beyond any doubt and adduce clear and convincing evidence to support their claims. Thus, Virginia law makes it difficult to prove adultery.
However, you can adduce two types of evidence:
- Direct evidence
- Circumstantial evidence
Direct evidence includes eyewitnesses of crime such as friends, family, and evidence of adulterer and its paramour can get used to corroborate your case.
However, the party at fault can plead the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer any question. The fifth amendment right protects the right of the defendant against self-incrimination.
Although only Circumstantial evidence is not sufficient to prove adultery, it can be used to corroborate primary evidence.
Circumstantial evidence includes bank statements, emails, messages, photographs, videos, sexting, and other evidence like hotel bills, restaurant bills, vacation or trip receipts, and movie tickets. This evidence is only required to corroborate evidence.
Read also: Adultery in Texas; Adultery in California; Adultery in Florida: all you need to know ; Virginia Law; How to prove adultery in Virginia?; Can you get jailed for adultery in Virginia?; Is sexting considered adultery in Virginia?
Editions: march-september 2022