Adultery and Divorce in West Virginia: Does Cheating Affect Divorce?

couple fight adultery and divorce

There are so many reasons why the couple may decide to part ways and end a marriage, and sometimes, these reasons may affect the divorce process and outcomes. One of the most frequently asked questions among the divorcing spouses in West Virginia is ‘Does infidelity affect divorce?’. The short answer is “yes,” yet it generally influences custody and financial aspects with certain exceptions. Read on to find out what happens in a divorce when a spouse cheats.

What Is Considered Adultery in West Virginia?

Adultery in West Virginia is referred to as a voluntary sexual relationship of a spouse with other people outside of the marriage. According to the adultery laws in WV, there are some exceptions when infidelity cannot be a ground for obtaining a divorce:

  • The spouse has continued living under the same roof with another spouse after exposing them.
  • Adultery was committed by the petitioner (the spouse who filed for a divorce).
  • Cases of infidelity took place more than 3 years before the filing.
  • Both spouses committed adultery.
  • The cheating occurred with the knowledge and acceptance of the accuser.

There may also be issues with claiming infidelity if you kept living with your spouse and were intimate with them after it happened.

Adultery and Divorce: Can Infidelity Affect Divorce Settlements?

If your spouse has committed adultery and you can prove it in court, this ground can affect your divorce settlement in your favor. You may potentially receive more property or assets or fewer liabilities as a result. Moreover, infidelity can influence a decision on custody over your children and alimony to a great extent.

Note that cheating while separated may be considered adultery, as you are still married to your spouse. Therefore, if they were unfaithful during separation, it is best to ask a lawyer how likely you are to get an advantage in a divorce when filing on adultery grounds

effects of adultery on divorce
Description of the effects of adultery on a divorce case

Can Adultery Affect Child Custody?

If you have a child custody dispute, your spouse’s infidelity may influence the judge’s decision only in a limited number of cases. The major factor would be if cheating harmed your kid’s best interests or put them in danger. An example would be if the parent neglected or abandoned your child to have an affair.

Such behavior on the part of your spouse will negatively affect them when the court makes decisions on custody, parenting time, and child support. It will also considerably increase your chances of obtaining primary residential rights.

If the infidelity did not affect your spouse’s relationship with the child, a judge might have no reason to take it into account in a custody case.

Can Adultery Affect Alimony in West Virginia?

Infidelity may affect the alimony amount an accused spouse will have to pay, but it is not the only factor a judge will take into consideration. The financial situation of both spouses, the length of a marriage, and other aspects will also play a role in the judge’s decision. All of these will influence the amount to be paid and the duration of such payments. The alimony may not be awarded if both spouses were unfaithful.

Do You Have to Prove Adultery in Divorce Proceedings?

It is not enough to claim that there was an affair to obtain a divorce on the ground of adultery. You will need to provide conclusive and convincing evidence to the judge. Substantial proof that you can present the court with may include the following:

  • Text messages and call history records
  • Testimonies of witnesses
  • Bills and credit card statements
  • Video footage and photographs

As a petitioner, you (and/or your lawyer) will be responsible for gathering evidence and ensuring it is sufficient to prove your spouse’s infidelity without a doubt.

steps involved in proving adultery in a divorce
Steps that typically involved in proving adultery

Approaching Divorce After Adultery

You may be devastated after discovering your spouse’s affair and confused about what should come next. It is common to think that fault-based divorce after infidelity is the best course of action, but it’s not always so. Your and your children’s best interests should be a priority during this time, and a lawyer may help you understand how to approach your divorce in a way that is least harmful to you and the kids.

In certain cases, getting a quick uncontested divorce based on a no-fault ground may give you a clean break and benefit you and your children more than court litigation. Note that it is only an option when your spouse is cooperative and ready to reach an agreement that you find fair. In such instances, you can divorce without a lawyer, complete your paperwork online, and end your marriage in the shortest time and cheapest way available in West Virginia.

If you decide to file for a contested divorce, you should hire a lawyer to help you prepare the evidence and guide you through all the steps of this process. Finally, if you are the one who committed adultery and has been served with the divorce paperwork, the best thing you can do to solve the situation is to hire a lawyer and try to speak with your spouse in order to resolve as many disagreements as you can before trials begin.

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