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Will adultery affect your divorce settlement?

Infidelity is a common cause of divorce. If you or your spouse has decided to end your marriage due to cheating, you might be wondering how adultery affects the divorce process in Georgia. You may have heard, for example, that Liberty Ross and Rupert Sanders recently settled their divorce and Ross walked away with "guilt money."

Ross, an actress and model, filed for divorce from her director husband after he was photographed by the paparazzi cheating with the young actress Kristen Stewart. It has been reported that Ross ended up receiving the majority of the couple's marital assets in the divorce. Regardless of whether such reports are accurate, they beg the question: does a spouse who was cheated on have the upper hand when it comes to the divorce settlement?

The answer depends, in large part, upon the state in which a couple resides. In Georgia, a spouse who was unfaithful generally cannot receive alimony if the adultery caused the divorce. The infidelity must have spurred the divorce filing; this means that if a spouse forgave a cheating spouse and they continued to live together as a married couple, only to file for divorce later on, the unfaithful spouse may still have a right to receive alimony.

While adultery can affect spousal support, it does not affect child support. It is also unlikely to affect child custody.

Whether or not adultery will influence an actual divorce property settlement agreement depends on a variety of factors. Georgia law holds that marital property must be divided equitably or fairly in divorce. In some cases, an adulterer might squander marital assets on an affair--paying for gifts or trips, for example--and things like this may affect the division of assets.

In any case, it can be difficult for a person to prove to a judge that his or her spouse cheated, and proof may be necessary in order for adultery to have any of the effects mentioned above.

Source: The Hamilton Spectator, "Liberty Ross gets 'her guilt money' from Rupert in divorce settlement," May 30, 2014

Source: New York Times, "Don't Try This at Home: Adultery in the Marital Bed," Joyce Walder, Jan. 12, 2011

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