In Georgia, adultery takes place when a person participates in either heterosexual or homosexual intercourse with someone who isn’t their spouse. While the term may seem like a remnant of an antiquated legal system, adultery can significantly affect several aspects of a divorce case in Georgia.
Adultery is one of the grounds for divorce in Georgia. If you’re filing or facing a divorce that involves adultery, find a legal counsel who can help you understand your rights and obligations and come up with an effective case strategy.
Technically, Title 16, chapter 9, section 9 of Georgia’s Code of Criminal Conduct states that “ A married person commits the offense of adultery when he voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than his spouse and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.” Essentially, in Georgia, adultery is considered a criminal offense and categorized as a misdemeanor. However, no one has been criminally prosecuted for adultery in the state in the last 100 years.
As mentioned above, adultery is technically illegal in Georgia. The court uses a two-prong test to establish whether or not adultery has been committed. First, the occurrence of extra-marital sexual intercourse must be established. Second, the affair should be the cause of the couple’s separation.
Although Georgia is still one of the few states with a criminal statute on adultery, no one has been criminally indicted for it in the past century. Law enforcement officials will also typically refuse to get involved in cases that involve adultery.
On top of being a criminal offense, adultery is also one of the 13 grounds for divorce in Title 19 of the Georgia Code. If proven in court, cheating on a spouse can affect the divorce in the following ways:
Alimony refers to the financial support given by a higher-earning spouse to the other low-earning spouse during and after divorce proceedings. Alimony can be temporary or permanent. It may also last until the supported spouse dies or remarries. Before granting alimony to one spouse, Georgia courts take into account several factors such as the couple’s standard of living, each spouse’s earning capacity and current financial resources, the length of the marriage, etc.
Statutory law provides that a spouse may be denied alimony if their adulterous actions have been established to be the cause of the couple’s separation. What this means is that if the accusation of adultery is proven in court, the cheating spouse won’t be entitled to alimony. This holds true no matter the financial circumstances of either spouse.
There are two ways in which adultery won’t affect or negate the claim for alimony:
In general, adultery doesn’t have any bearing on Georgia child custody cases. It also won’t affect child support. The only exception is when the cheating spouse exposes the children to inappropriate actions or behavior because of their affair.
If the spouse committed adultery in front of their children, the court may determine that they did not act in their children’s best interests. As a result, this will most likely weigh against the offending party if there’s a custody battle.
Adultery is every married person’s worst nightmare. It can make the process of divorce more emotionally charged and the offended party more litigious.
Under Georgia law, divorce will not be granted if adultery happened in the following situations:
It can be devastating to learn that your husband has committed adultery. Cheating is a break in your marital bond and a betrayal of your trust. However, it’s important to remain calm and learn your rights, especially when you’re considering divorce.
Remember, the law is on your side. Your husband’s infidelity will be considered by the court when deciding on issues involving property division, child custody, and alimony. To protect your rights and make sure you’re not making any mistakes during the process, always consult an experienced and capable family law attorney.
In general, the statute of limitations on misdemeanor offenses, like adultery, is 2 years. However, if you’re filing for a divorce, you don’t have to prove a fault ground like adultery in the state. Georgia is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you don’t have to allege and prove adultery before you can get a divorce.
If you do plan to get a fault-based divorce on the grounds of adultery, it’s best to consult a lawyer because of the complex issues involved in your case.
Although there are many ways that a married person can be considered unfaithful, under Georgia law, adultery can only be established if there’s actual extra-marital sexual intercourse. Thus, sexting, kissing, and even oral sex, will not be considered as adultery by the court.
Text messages, however, may be used as evidence to establish adultery. The court may subpoena the spouse’s cell phone provider and require them to reveal private messages related to the cheating allegations. If you’ve also received any incriminating messages from your cheating spouse, you can use this to help strengthen your case.
If adultery is an issue in your divorce case, schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer who can represent and aggressively defend your best interests.
Attorney Sharon Jackson has years of experience helping clients navigate complicated and emotional divorces. Call us today at (438) 909-4100 to schedule a consultation.