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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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I am currently facing a long term potential alimony situation

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I am currently facing a long term potential alimony situation with my wife. I caught her with my 10 year old son's soccer coach in a hotel room overnight by private investigators. She denies it and so does the coach. I did not have PDA. We live in Loudoun County Virginia. In April 2011, we went to court over it for 5 days. She brought in her friends as witnesses to paint a picture of mental abuse over the years which was not true but sounded convincing in court. The judge has not ruled on the case yet but is hinting at Manifest Injustice. He also believes she needs to go back to work. We have 4 kids 12-19 years of age and the mom ( my wife) doesn't work. If I end up having to pay her longterm alimony at a high monthly rate, I am going to have a hard time morally doing so. I make $320,000/year but work very hard to earn that amount. What are your thoughts? If I move to another state and do not pay alimony after my youngest son turns 18 (6 years), what will most likely happen to me legally? Thank you for any guidance.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened, and I can certainly understand why you don't feel that you should have to pay alimony.

First, child support and alimony are two different issues. Assuming that the children live with her, under Virginia law, child support terminates when the child turns 18, unless he's still in high school. In that case, you would pay until he turned 19 or graduated, whichever came first. If you agree to pay college costs, then you could be required to pay support for longer (but there is nothing in the law that requires you to agree).

If you are ordered to pay alimony and you do not, she can have you held in contempt of court. That usually starts with fines, but a judge can choose to put you in jail if you have the money and simply refuse to pay it. Under the full faith and credit clause to the U.S. Constitution, any state in the Union must enforce a court order from another state. That means that, if a Virginia judge issues a warrant for your arrest, and they find you in another state, you will be held in jail until you can be transferred back to Virginia and held accountable there. That's a situation you probably want to avoid, if at all possible.

With that said, if you can get a divorce on the grounds of adultery, Virginia Code, Section 20-91(A)(9)(c) suggests that you do not have to pay spousal support. To prove adultery, it is usually enough to show intent and opportunity. Also, this isn't criminal court - you don't need to prove adultery beyond a reasonable doubt. You need only show it by "clear and convincing evidence." Hopefully, whatever the private investigator gave you that convinced you will convince the judge as well.

As far as manifest injustice goes, that tends to apply where one spouse has special medical needs, is disabled, or cannot work for other reasons - say the two of you were much older, and she had been out of the workforce for 40 years. In this case, you can argue that, because she is physically capable of working, she can get a job to meet her needs, especially in light of the fact that you are giving her money to support the children. On top of that, when the last child moves out of the home, you can go back and request a modification on the grounds that she is no longer raising children and, therefore, there is nothing to prevent her from getting a job.

Good luck.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

"For Lucy" Thank you for the great feedback. A couple of points of clarification: My attorney is telling me to prove adultry in the state of Va. you need two things - intent/opportunity plus Public Display of Affection (PDA). I only have the first and not PDA. Is this accurate? I have them in a hotel room where she is video taped leaving her room at 8:30am and the boyfriend is seen peering around the door with just his head. He takes a shower and leaves 30 minutes later. We have video of him going to his car. Also, my wife's phone records which shows 19 calls between them over the two days they were seen together. Some for over 2 hours. Is this worthy evidence in Virginia? I heard some states yes others not as much on the phone records.


Does Manifest Injustice reflect the belief that I emotionally abused her during our marriage. Her friends came into court and testified that I gave her the silent treatment at times for days at a time during our marriage which thereby negatively impacted our relationship and lead to the breakup.


If you could anwers these two questions that would be great.

PDA would be extremely useful, but is not absolutely required. The telephone records will help, as will the fact that they were in a hotel room alone together. This article discusses a Virginia case from 2007 where adultery was found despite the lack of a PDA.

If she can prove that emotional abuse lead to the adultery, that could play into the "manifest injustice," yes. In that case, she's basically saying that you caused the divorce and that her adultery would not have occurred without your conduct. But you'll be allowed to bring in your own evidence to counter what they are saying. For example, if you're generally not a very talkative person, the fact that her friends may have seen you not talking to your wife on one or two occasions wouldn't necessarily prove anything. Also, I'm really not sure that not talking to her a few times, over the course of years of marriage, constitutes emotional abuse. She would have to prove that you did something else. Here's what the state has to say on that issue:
Emotional abuse may take the form of humiliation and intimidation tactics such as calling the victim degrading names, diminishing the victim’s sense of self-worth, threatening harm to the victim or family, torturing pets, and destroying personal property. Isolation maneuvers are also common. For instance, the victim’s outside contacts with friends or family may be monitored or criticized. The victim may be denied access to a vehicle. Over time, all meaningful contact between the victim and outsiders may be eliminated. Some acts of emotional abuse are explicitly illegal, such as stalking, torturing pets or making threats. See, e.g., Va. Code §§18.2-60.3, 3.1-796.12, 18.2-60 respectively. Other acts of emotional abuse may not be criminal in nature but form an underlying pattern of control.
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