Adultery is defined by Virginia Law as any person, being married, who voluntarily has sexual intercourse with any person not his or her spouse. Accordingly, in order for a person to be guilty of adultery, sexual intercourse must occur. When one spouse commits adultery, it is very hard on a marriage and often leads ultimately to a divorce.
In a divorce case, adultery (whether committed during the marriage or after a separation) has significance in a number of areas. It can be grounds for a divorce. It can bar spousal support being awarded to the adulterous spouse. It can be a factor in how the courts divide the marital assets. Adultery can be one factor in custody and visitation, especially if the relationship has taken place in the presence of the kids or has taken significant time and attention away from the children.
From a legal standpoint, a wronged spouse should not assume that because the other spouse committed adultery the other spouse loses all rights. The law of property division, support, and custody must be understood in order to seek maximum relief based on adultery.
Condonation is an important legal doctrine that also must be considered whenever there are allegations of adultery. If a person cohabits (lives as man and wife) with the adulterer after knowing of the adultery, that person is considered to have forgiven or condoned the adultery. That forgiveness is conditional, and if the adultery continues the fault is revived. It is important for a person who is faced with a potential issue of adultery to obtain legal advice at the earliest possible time to discuss these matters in more detail.