What Happens in a Divorce When a Spouse Cheats?

Discovering that your spouse has been unfaithful can be absolutely devastating. You’re likely experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions – anger, sadness, confusion. 

Now you’re faced with big decisions about your marriage and future. You may be wondering how your spouse’s affair might affect your divorce case.

Here in Georgia, the impact of adultery on divorce proceedings depends on the specific circumstances. There are a few key ways infidelity could potentially influence your divorce settlement.

Can Cheating Be Grounds for Divorce in Georgia?

Georgia used to allow “fault divorces” where you could cite adultery or other marital misconduct as grounds. However, today, Georgia operates under “no-fault” divorce laws. 

This means you don’t have to prove fault or wrongdoing to get divorced here. You simply assert that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” due to irreconcilable differences.

So adultery alone won’t necessarily be grounds for divorce anymore in Georgia. But it can still be an important factor that arises in proceedings.

How Infidelity Can Affect Equitable Division

When a marriage ends, Georgia courts will equitably divide marital property between spouses. This includes assets like the house, cars, retirement accounts, investments, etc.

In making this division, judges must consider all the relevant circumstances of the marriage. A spouse’s adultery and how marital funds were spent during the affair are valid considerations.

For example, if your spouse spent thousands of dollars of marital money on lavish gifts, trips, or housing for their affair partner, a judge may award you a greater share. The logic is that you shouldn’t be penalized for their wasteful spending during the marriage.

Forensic accountants can help uncover money spent due to the affair by tracing credit card statements, cash withdrawals, receipts, and more. This accounting provides clear evidence for negotiations and court.

The Influence of Infidelity on Alimony

Georgia courts may also order one spouse to pay the other alimony after divorce. The purpose of alimony is to help maintain the receiving spouse’s prior standard of living.

When deciding alimony, judges look at factors like each spouse’s income, education, health, and more. An affair can potentially demonstrate the need for more spousal support.

For instance, if one spouse lost work time or clients due to the emotional distress of their partner’s cheating, they may have a stronger case for alimony. The direct actions of the unfaithful spouse impaired their earning capacity.

However, adultery itself doesn’t guarantee higher alimony. The court has broad discretion based on the totality of evidence.

How Cheating Could Affect Child Custody

When minor children are involved, child custody will be a major issue to resolve. Georgia family courts always determine custody based on the “best interests of the child.” They want to preserve the child’s safety, well-being, and stability.

An affair doesn’t inherently preclude shared custody arrangements. But it can demonstrate poor moral character and judgment by the cheating parent. The court may consider how the infidelity has impacted the children emotionally.

In limited cases, adultery could show a parent is unfit to care for the child alone. For example, if the affair partner has a concerning criminal history.

Overall, child custody depends on all factors related to parenting, not just adultery. The court’s goal is protecting the child, not punishing the parent.

Consulting a Family Law Attorney About Divorce

If you’re considering divorce due to infidelity, it’s essential to speak with an experienced family law attorney. They can advise you on the laws in Georgia and how adultery might impact your specific case.

Here are a few important questions an attorney can help you answer:

  • What are my options for grounds for divorce?
  • What evidence should I gather about the affair?
  • How could infidelity influence the division of assets or debts?
  • Might I be entitled to more alimony because of the cheating?
  • How will custody arrangements be determined?
  • What alternatives to litigation exist to resolve our divorce?

We know this is an incredibly difficult and emotional time. With an attorney guiding you, you’ll feel empowered to move forward into your new life after infidelity.

Take Control of Your Journey

Discovering a spouse’s adultery often ignites the hero’s journey – your quest to close this painful chapter and forge a new path. An attorney can serve as your mentor, providing knowledge and resources so you don’t travel alone.

Too often, people let fear hold them back from seeking legal help. But you don’t have to handle divorce alone. In fact, with so much at stake, it can be risky not to consult an attorney.

Don’t let your spouse’s actions leave you at a disadvantage. Contact the divorce lawyers at Edwards Family Law today to schedule a consultation. Their attorneys can walk you through your options and rights regarding divorce.

The pain of finding out that your spouse cheated can feel overwhelming right now. But you possess the inner strength to get through this, move on, and build a better life.