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What impact might adultery have on a West Virginia divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Divorce

West Virginia offers no-fault divorces, which means that people can divorce without proving marital faults. However, some people choose to pursue fault-based divorce for a very specific reason.

Adultery is one of the most common reasons that people decide their marriage is past saving. Someone who discovers that their spouse has been unfaithful may want to file for divorce. They may also hope that the West Virginia family courts will give them justice for the violation of their marital vows they have experienced.

Adultery can lead to a fault-based divorce

If someone has proof of an extramarital affair, they can file for a divorce using fault-based grounds instead of seeking a no-fault divorce. Their lawyer will submit evidence to the courts showing that their spouse was unfaithful and then ask a judge to grant them a divorce. When successful, fault-based divorces can give people a sense of closure because the courts have effectively decreed that the end of the marriage was the fault of the other spouse. Fault-based divorces can also have significantly different outcomes than no-fault divorces.

Judges can consider marital fault for the purpose of alimony or spousal support. A dependent spouse filing for divorce after discovering an affair may find that a judge is more amenable to awarding them long-term or permanent spousal support when compared with those in a no-fault divorce scenario. In some cases, judges can even decline to award someone spousal support specifically because of their infidelity. Other times, they can reduce the duration or amount of support because someone cheated on their spouse. Infidelity typically does not affect child custody or support matters.

Generally, marital fault does not influence the division of assets in a West Virginia divorce. However, if someone wasted marital resources while conducting an affair, evidence of that spending could influence property division determination. Money spent on gifts, restaurants, hotel rooms and vacations could ultimately end up affecting how much property one spouse receives or how much debt they have to assume after the divorce.

Ultimately, seeking legal guidance and reviewing both state law and evidence of infidelity at length may help people put together the best plan for pursuing justice after their spouse cheats.