Adultery in the DMV: Understanding Grounds for Divorce Part #2

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby.”


One of the most popular grounds for divorce in the DMV, and possibly one of the most difficult grounds to prove, is Adultery.

In DC, Maryland, and Virginia, Adultery is defined as the same thing: the act of having sexual intercourse with a person other than one’s husband or wife. There do not need to be multiple instances of intercourse to file for a divorce under this ground. A single occurrence of the act is enough. This means that if a wife or husband engages in sex with a person outside of their marriage even one time, that single occurrence is sufficient for the other spouse to file for a fault-based divorce under this ground.


Whether you are in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, you will need to be able to prove the adulterous act occurred. This may be accomplished by presenting direct evidence or circumstantial evidence of the occurrence. This could include photographs of the spouse engaging in sex with another person, explicit text messages between the spouse and the paramour, or even witnessing the act in person by surprise. A belief or an admission of a friend that the event occurred will not suffice. Due to the requirement of possessing direct or circumstantial evidence of the act’s occurrence, this ground may be difficult to prove in some cases.


Also keep in mind that in some jurisdictions, such as Virginia, Adultery is considered a crime and the spouse that committed adultery may choose to invoke their 5th Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination in some legal situations.


One must also be cautious about the fact that separation does not mean divorce, therefore you could be separated from your spouse and still commit adultery. Should this happen, your spouse can add this ground to his or her petition for Divorce. Try to refrain from these situations and engage in new sexual relationships after the marriage dissolves. This allows you to avoid adultery being raised as an allegation in a divorce. Furthermore, a Judge may consider the adulterous act by a spouse when making decisions regarding the equitable distribution in a parties’ divorce.


Grounds for Divorce in the DMV, and Adultery specifically, are often complicated and fact-specific. Hiring the right attorney at the first opportunity will not only save you money, but will help you to make sense of the divorce process. We at A. Clarke Law have not only had the experience of helping families through complicated divorces, but with all other aspects of dissolving a marriage.


Allow me to make the process “Christal Clear” and help you to achieve your peace of mind.