Divorce law can be complex and unintuitive, and varies widely from state to state. This is one reason why it’s so important to speak with an attorney before getting divorced. There are likely laws that you’ve never heard of that may apply to your books.
One rule in Georgia divorce of which most laypeople are unaware: adultery can affect a spouse’s ability to get alimony during a divorce. If a spouse’s infidelity causes the couple to separate, the adulterous spouse isn’t eligible to receive alimony.
Adultery means sexual intercourse with a person other than your spouse, so it doesn’t apply to kissing or emotional relationships. Also, you don’t have to prove that your spouse actually had sex with another person beyond a reasonable doubt. A judge decides whether a spouse cheated using a standard called “preponderance of the evidence,” which essentially means that it’s more likely that the spouse cheated than not. If you’re trying to show that your spouse committed adultery, you’ll have to present evidence that shows that your spouse had both the opportunity and inclination to have an affair.
Unless you’ve got hard evidence, like a taped confession, you’ll probably need a family law attorney to help you prove adultery in court. You can help your attorney by gathering everything you can – phone records, hotel receipts, emails, texts, photos, witnesses “in the know,” and anything else that would make a reasonable person believe that your spouse committed adultery.
Adultery that is long in the past or forgiven might not be enough to bar a spouse from receiving alimony. If one spouse had an affair, admitted it, and the couple reconciled and stayed married afterwards, the affair may not preclude alimony if the couple eventually divorces.
In order for a spouse’s infidelity to bar alimony, the spouse who wants to avoid paying alimony must ask for the divorce on the grounds of adultery; it’s not enough to claim that the divorce is happening for “irreconcilable differences.” If infidelity plays a role in your divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney to evaluate your legal situation.