Adultery in Georgia - Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

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Cheating is often considered to be one of the worst marital sins that either spouse can commit. While many would rightfully hold spousal abuse and neglect as worse demons, no one can deny that adultery has serious detrimental effects on a marriage relationship.

As many spouses know, cheating often has consequences. Aside from the effect of cheating on the marriage itself, cheating may affect the divorce process and any alimony awards received by the spouses. Each state varies on how exactly adultery will affect an alimony award, and so this article is intended to clarify that issue for the state of Georgia.

The Nature of Divorce in Georgia

Before discussing whether adultery or cheating would affect an award of alimony or spousal support, the nature of divorce in Georgia must be examined.Spouses seeking a divorce in Georgia may do so under any of Georgia’s thirteen grounds for divorce. While Georgia does have “no-fault” divorce, twelve of Georgia’s divorce grounds allow divorce for reason of marital misconduct. One of Georgia’s “at-fault” divorce grounds is adultery.1

About Georgia Alimony Rules

In Georgia, an award of alimony is designed to provide for the support of one of spouses while they are living separately after divorce. The amount of alimony may be affected by the following factors:

  • The standard of living during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age and health of the spouses;
  • The financial resources of the spouses;
  • The education of the spouses; and
  • The contributions of the parties to the marriage.

Alimony in Georgia is intended to be temporary financial assistance to help a spouse who was financially dependent during the marriage to adjust to single life. However, alimony payments can continue for as long as the court determines they are needed. Alimony will not be awarded from a spouse without the ability to pay.2

The Effect of Adultery and Other For-Cause Grounds for Divorce on Alimony

While the determination of alimony awards in Georgia divorces appears to be entirely financial at first glance, marital misconduct such as adultery can affect alimony awards in two ways. First, the adulterous spouse cannot seek any alimony at all. Second, adultery can be a factor in a judge’s determination to award alimony, but the financial factors described above should be used to determine the amount of alimony.3

The Verdict:

For the spouse that cheated, that infidelity will have the effect of preventing that spouse from seeking any alimony at all, regardless of his or her financial situation. This is because Georgia courts do not want to reward marital misconduct with money. For the spouse that was cheated on, infidelity will not affect the amount of payments of alimony (that is a purely financial determination), but the fact of adultery may make the court more likely to agree to award some form of alimony as punishment.

If your spouse has been cheating on you and you plan to sue for divorce, you should consider contacting a local divorce attorney for assistance. Divorces involving adultery claims tend to be very messy lawsuits and will be very difficult to litigate on your own. Your rights can be best protected by proactively protecting your ability to succeed in your divorce litigation.

Note: This article is not legal advice. Please consult a lawyer for your specific situation.

Resources:

  1. O.C.G.A. § 19-5-3.
  2. O.C.G.A. § 19-6-5.
  3. O.C.G.A. § 19-6-1.