At one time, a party who wanted a divorce had to prove that the other party was at fault for the marital breakdown either as a result of adultery, abandonment or abuse. A party whose spouse was innocent of adultery or other wrongdoing could not get a divorce. As a result, being able to prove wrongdoing, most often adultery, became a ticket to freedom from an unwanted marriage.
Today, no fault divorces are available. For example, in Georgia, you can get a divorce without proving wrongdoing by either party. It is enough to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Although adultery is still a ground for divorce, it is no longer as important as it once was because proving adultery or other wrongdoing is no longer required.
So, is adultery still relevant to a divorce today?
It can be. For example, in Georgia, a party who has committed adultery will not be awarded alimony if it can be established that the separation between the parties was caused by that party’s adultery.
Adultery may also impact a custody decision if it can be shown that the adultery affects that the guilty party’s fitness as a parent.
By contrast, adultery is not a proper factor to be considered when dividing marital property or determining child support.