Altavista, VA asked in Divorce and Family Law for Virginia

Q: In Virginia, will husband have to pay spousal support even if wife committed adultery?

Husband has been sole provider for the duration of 15 year marriage. Will husband still have to pay spousal support even if wife committed adultery?

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3 Lawyer Answers

Sharon R. Moss


A: Not necessarily. Adultery is normally a bar to spousal support, but there is an exception if the court finds a manifest injustice would occur if no support were paid. Speak to an attorney for more specific advice on your situation.

Wayne E. Holcomb

  • Yorktown/Newport News, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: The rule is that if a spouse commits adultery, and this can be proven in court by clear and convincing evidence, that spouse will not receive spousal support from the other spouse. In lay terms, the court will not require one to support an ex-spouse who caused the divorce by cheating. All that said, this is still difficult to prove, and as the previous lawyer explained, if there is great injustice, i.e. the "punishment" of no spousal support doesn't fit the "crime," the court might not enforce this rule. The court battles on this issue are difficult, for both parties: a whole lot of laundry gets out in the open unfortunately. The important thing is to know that there is a clear rule, but that on the fringe, the court has discretion to rule either way.

Michael Christopher Miller

  • Vienna, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Va. Code § 20-107.1, "B. Any maintenance and support shall be subject to the provisions of § 20-109, and no permanent maintenance and support shall be awarded from a spouse if there exists in such spouse's favor a ground of divorce under the provisions of subdivision A (1) of § 20-91. However, the court may make such an award notwithstanding the existence of such ground if the court determines from clear and convincing evidence, that a denial of support and maintenance would constitute a manifest injustice, based upon the respective degrees of fault during the marriage and the relative economic circumstances of the parties." Subdivision A (1) of § 20-91is adultery.

So, what that means is that adultery can be a bar to spousal support unless it would be a manifest injustice to deny spousal support.

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