From a moral standpoint, there are few things more damaging to a marriage than adultery. A marriage is entered into with complete trust in one another, and adultery is, at its heart, a betrayal of that trust.
Legally, the situation surrounding adultery becomes a little more complicated. In the state of Georgia, there are criminal penalties that can stem from the act. And in cases of divorce, allegations of adultery can add immense complications to a legal case. What follows are answers to a few popular questions about infidelity, cheating, and adultery in the state of Georgia.
On paper, yes, it is against the law to cheat on your spouse in the state of Georgia, with Title 16, chapter 9, section 9 of Georgia’s Code of Criminal Conduct spelling it out pretty clearly. In that section of the law, it states, “ A married person commits the offense of adultery when he voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than his spouse and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as for a misdemeanor.”
Legally speaking, adultery must occur during the period in which two people are married. You cannot be charged with adultery for cheating on someone you are dating or engaged to.
So yes, adultery is considered a misdemeanor and thus is technically illegal. That said, there hasn’t been a single case where someone was charged and prosecuted for adultery in Georgia for the last 100 years.
By wording it specifically as “sexual intercourse,” the state of Georgia defines adultery pretty narrowly. Forms of intimacy other than that, such as sexting, kissing, or heavy flirtation are not legally considered adultery.
The law does not distinguish between hetero- or homosexual congress in defining adultery. If sexual intercourse occurs between two parties, and one is married, it is legally adultery regardless of their gender.
There are two types of ways in which adultery can be alleged and proven in court during a divorce case:
Circumstantial evidence is indirect evidence showing the possibility that an affair could have taken place. While these are not generally admissible as evidence, Georgia is one of a handful of states that allow such evidence to be submitted. Some examples include:
• Cell phone bills showing multiple phone calls and text messages between the accused spouse and the alleged extramarital partner.
• Tracking data from the accused’s cell phone or other devices, such as social media data, browser history, or saved texts from messaging apps such as Snapchat or WhatsApp.
• Witness testimony from anyone who saw alleged infidelity take place.
• Photographs that indicate a romantic relationship, but don’t necessarily prove adultery, such as images of the accused kissing or going on a date with one another.
Direct evidence is far more powerful and convincing than circumstantial evidence. Short of a full-blown admission of guilt, it is among the most valuable evidence you can bring to trial, as it shows tangible proof of an affair. Types of direct evidence include:
• Written communications, either on paper or electronic, clearly stating that adultery occurred.
• Photographic evidence showing the actual act of sexual relations between the accused and the third party.
• Other documentation or testimony that provides clear proof of an affair.
It is worth considering before going through with divorce that, yes, divorce proceedings are generally a matter of public record in the state of Georgia. In the heat of the moment, you may be feeling anger and resentment toward your cheating spouse but take a moment to consider what comes after the divorce. Being known as an adulterer in the public record will follow your spouse along far after the divorce, but it is a scarlet letter that can follow your children as well. You need to decide whether you want them to know the full ugly details of their parent’s transgressions.
There are, of course, alternatives. One of them, required by Georgia law before any divorce case can proceed, is mediation. This entails both spouses and their attorneys sitting down with a third party to attempt some kind of agreement on assets, alimony, and custody outside of a courtroom. The agreements reached during mediation are not legally binding, but they do have the advantage of remaining out of the public eye. They also save both parties the time and financial hardship of a full-blown trial.
Another option is arbitration, which is similar to mediation but carries with it two distinct advantages. The first is that the decisions reached by the third-party arbiter are legally binding, letting both spouses avoid a trial at all. The second is that any particulars of your case and anything discussed during arbitration are never entered into the public record.
In the wild, there are a few different types of predators. There are ambush predators, who remain hidden until they are least expected, then strike with the element of surprise. These predators rely on confusion, chaos, and short bursts of energy to subdue their prey.
The wolf is a different type of predator. Rather than quick, intense action, they are relentless in their endurance. They will follow their prey, testing its defenses, until they have a full understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.
When you are dealing with adultery in a divorce case, you are in a good position to see a positive outcome. But only if you are patient and exercise practiced strategy. You need an attorney who will approach your case like a wolf – calculating, patient, and willing to do what it takes to win. If the other side is willing to compromise and help you get your needs met, we may make a consideration. But if they’re ready to fight, they had better be prepared to go the distance.
Ours is the targeted, strategic aggression of the wolf. Some attorneys pride themselves on acting like a bulldog, grabbing on for dear life, and never letting go no matter the cost. But the wolf approaches the pursuit with instincts and intellect that, ultimately, make it the predator you need in the fight for what you are entitled to.
Your journey will begin with our initial confidential consultation to establish the facts and begin developing the attorney/client relationship. This simple $450 flat fee buys you a greater understanding of your case – the circumstances, the liabilities, and the strategy. Beyond giving you greater confidence in your attorney’s ability to deliver for you, this first step is crucial in protecting your rights under the law for your children and your assets.
This initial session will also answer the question we get asked most: “How much will this cost?” We will establish our retainer fee at this time based on the complexity of your case and the time we estimate it will take to see your needs met. That way, you only pay what you need, and not a penny more.
Because we place such a massive emphasis on getting to know the particulars of your case upfront, and because we build that relationship with you first, we walk into mediation or court better prepared than the other side. Preparation is the key to winning, and it’s a key we’ve used to unlock countless cases just like yours.
If you’ve had your trust betrayed and your life shattered by an adulterous spouse, protect your future and your children’s future now by scheduling a confidential consultation with the Claiborne Firm.