Adultery as a Bar to Spousal Support

Spousal support is an important determination to be made by the Court during a divorce proceeding. The Court looks to a set of thirteen factors, defined in Virginia Code § 20-107.1(E).

These factors include:

  • Standard of living of the spouse
  • Debts and assets
  • Age and health of both parties
  • Each spouse’s earning potential
  • Length of time of the marriage
  • Absence from the job market due to parental responsibilities

Adultery is a Bar to Spousal Support

However, adultery is a bar to spousal support in most cases. This bar would prohibit the spouse found guilty of adultery from even being considered for spousal support.

Adultery Must Be Proven By “Clear and Convincing Evidence”

Adultery must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence,” a high standard of proof within the Court of law. If this can be proven, it is likely that the spouse will be barred from receiving any spousal support. However, the Court must ask whether barring spousal support would result in a “manifest injustice,” as laid out in Virginia Code § 20-107.1(B).

“Manifest Injustice” as a Way to Still Receive Spousal Support Even if Adultery is Proven

If, under the Virginia Code, the Court finds that depriving an adulterous spouse from receiving spousal support would create a manifest injustice, the Court has the discretion to award spousal support. A manifest injustice means something that is obviously unfair and would shock the conscience if it were allowed.

In summation, calculating spousal support based on the statutory factors outlined in the Virginia Code can get complicated in the event of a manifest injustice. Attorney Van Smith and the attorneys at Smith Strong, PLC are ready to take your call about any family law matters and can help you in your divorce and determining the appropriate figure for spousal support.

H. Van Smith
Trusted Virginia Family Law Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg