Cheating can be devastating to a marriage, and it often leads to divorce. If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage due to one spouse's adultery, you may be wondering whether the adultery will affect any aspect of the divorce.
This article provides an overview of alimony in Georgia and explains how adultery can impact an alimony award. If you still have questions after reading this article, you should contact an experienced family law attorney for advice.
In Georgia, alimony is financial support paid from one spouse (typically the higher-earning spouse) to the other spouse (the low-earning or “supported” spouse) during and possibly after the divorce proceeding.
Alimony can be temporary, lasting for a specific period of time, or permanent, lasting until the supported spouse remarries or dies.
The spouse requesting alimony must prove a need for financial support and show that the other spouse has the ability to pay support. After the need and ability to pay have been proven, the court takes several other factors into account to decide whether to award alimony and how much. Georgia courts consider the following factors:
There is no formula for calculating alimony in Georgia; the court determines alimony on a case-by-case basis.
For a detailed discussion of alimony, the types of alimony, and its effects in Georgia, see Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Georgia.
In Georgia, adultery is defined as one spouse having sexual intercourse with a person other than his or her spouse while married. To prove adultery, you need more than just one spouse’s testimony. Evidence such as photos, recordings, phone records, bank or credit card statements, and witnesses, including private investigators, are often helpful in proving adultery.
In Georgia, you don’t have to prove that sexual intercourse happened if you can prove that your spouse had both the opportunity and the inclination to have committed adultery.
Proving adultery in court can be rather complex because you’ll need to know the legal rules of evidence and trial procedure. It’s not something most people can do on their own. You should contact an experienced Georgia family law attorney if you are trying to prove adultery in your divorce case.
When adultery is the cause of a divorce in Georgia, the spouse that was unfaithful is barred from receiving alimony. It’s not enough that one spouse cheated during the marriage - the infidelity has to be the reason for the divorce for it to result in a ban on alimony. If one spouse cheated, but the other spouse forgave him or her and they continued to live together, the unfaithful spouse won’t be barred from receiving alimony.
For adultery to bar alimony, the faithful spouse also has to file for divorce on the grounds of adultery, not just “irreconcilable differences” (which means the couple can’t get along anymore), and the divorce has to be granted on the grounds of adultery.
To read more about the grounds for divorce in Georgia, see The Basics of Filing for Divorce in Georgia.
Adultery generally doesn’t affect custody in a Georgia divorce, unless the children were exposed to inappropriate things as a result of the affair. Adultery never affects child support in Georgia.
Adultery can have an impact on how a divorcing couple’s assets are divided, especially if the unfaithful spouse spent lots of money on the affair, for example, by buying gifts and paying for trips and hotel rooms.
If you have other questions about alimony and adultery in Georgia after reading this article, contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.
To read the full text of the law on alimony in Georgia, see the Georgia Code Annotated, § 16-6-19 and § 19-6-1.