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The Impact of Adultery on Divorce

Tonight's post on adultery and divorce was written by our Marietta divorce attorney, Alyssa Blanchard

In Georgia, there are thirteen grounds of divorce. One of those grounds is adultery committed by either of the parties, Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) § 19-5-3(6). As a divorce attorney, I am often asked what impact one party's adulterous relationship has on divorce.

Let's say for example you work a job that pays you a salary of $180,000 per year. Your wife is a stay at home mom taking care of your two children. You have been married for fifteen years and she never worked during the marriage. She has zero income. You come home one day from work to find your committing adultery. Surprise!

Not surprisingly, you decide to file for divorce. In your Complaint for Divorce, you seek a total divorce, division of assets and debt and joint custody of the children. Your wife files her Answer and Counterclaim seeking the same things but also demands alimony. Your wife would have a perfect case for alimony but for the fact that she committed adultery. That could be a very costly joy ride.

Adultery is a bar to alimony. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 19-9-1(b), "a party shall not be entitled to alimony if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the separation between the parties was caused by that party's adultery..." While an award for alimony is based on need and ability to pay, O.C.G.A. §19-9-1(c), if your spouse has committed adultery she is not entitled to alimony whether she needs it or not.  That may be a harsh result but this statute is a prime example of behavior has consequences. Too bad, so sad.

So, you may find yourself in the middle of a divorce and rather than taking it to trial before the judge you think would much rather try to settle the case to save time and the cost of a divorce trial. But compare that cost against the amount of alimony your philandering spouse demands.  Don't settle on paying alimony to your cheating spouse. You don't have to. They are not entitled to it.

 Alyssa Blanchard

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