As divorce attorneys, we represent individuals from all walks of life - men, women, individuals who are defending against an unwanted divorce and those who wish to initiate a divorce in Georgia. In our practice, we are presented with a wide range of questions concerning family law and divorce every day. Lately, one of the most prevalent questions that our team of Atlanta divorce attorneys has been presented with is: "Does it matter that I cheated on my spouse?"
Technically, in the context of Georgia divorce, infidelity may play a major role in the court's determination of alimony and equitable distribution. In fact, if the infidelity of one party was the cause of separation, that party may be barred from recovering alimony completely. See O.C.G.A. §§ 19-5-1 et seq. and 19-6-10 et seq.
As mentioned above though, this is the technical answer. The real question is, does cheating really matter practically speaking? Unfortunately, the answer to this question may be no. In our experience, the fact that one spouse may be guilty of adultery does not play as large of a role in divorce as some may expect. In fact, it is very rare that a divorce will be granted on the grounds of adultery, because it is necessary for any party seeking a divorce based on the grounds of adultery to actually prove the adultery took place. As cheating is something that normally happens in secrecy, it is often very difficult, if not impossible for betrayed spouses to prove the other party's affair. As a result, adultery is often not even claimed as grounds for divorce. If it is, it is normally coupled with a claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Additionally, depending on the locale where the divorce action is initiated, the judge or jury deciding the divorce matter may not be very sympathetic to a spouse who claims adultery as grounds for divorce. This may seem counterintuitive at first blush, seeing that the spouse claiming this ground for divorce is the injured or betrayed party. However, if the local court that is presiding over the matter is one that often hears cases involving murder, child abuse and other heinous crimes and injuries, the court may be slightly desensitized to the issues of adultery in divorce.
If you are considering divorce, it is never advisable for you to engage in any activity that may potentially put the outcome of your case in jeopardy. But if you have cheated on your spouse, you should know that all hope is not lost. You may still obtain a favorable outcome upon divorce with the help of an experienced and trusted divorce attorney.