The question often arises, “Does Georgia have a Homewrecker law?” The answer is no. Georgia, like most states, does not recognize what is colloquially known as a “homewrecker” or “heart balm” law.
This refers to laws that allow a spouse to sue another person for purposefully interfering with their marriage, often through an affair with the other spouse.
However, adultery still does have an impact in Georgia cases. Let’s take a closer look.
Homewrecker Law States
In the United States, only a handful of states still recognize these types of torts (or civil – not necessarily criminal – lawsuits), including Hawaii, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Utah.
These states uphold laws such as “alienation of affection” and “criminal conversation” which can be used to file lawsuits against third parties who interfere in marriages.
In Georgia, under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 16-6-19, adultery is defined as a married person having sexual intercourse with a person other than his or her spouse.
While adultery is considered a misdemeanor offense under Georgia law, it is rarely prosecuted.
Statute of Limitations on Adultery in Georgia
The statute of limitations for the misdemeanor criminal charge of adultery in Georgia is two years.
This means that from the time the adultery is discovered, the wronged spouse has two years to seek criminal prosecution if they choose to do so.
Can You Sue for Adultery in Georgia
While Georgia does not have a specific “homewrecker” law allowing a spouse to civilly sue their adulterous spouse outside of a divorce case, a spouse can cite adultery as a ground for divorce.
However, it must be proven and it must be the reason for the non-cheating spouse to initiate the divorce – and it doesn’t necessarily result in a more favorable divorce settlement for the innocent spouse.
Can You Go to Jail for Adultery in Georgia
Although adultery is technically a crime in Georgia, it is rarely prosecuted. However, theoretically, as it is a misdemeanor, you could possibly go to jail over this.
The law on adultery is mostly used as a grounds for divorce and can impact divorce proceedings and settlements.
Alienation of Affection Georgia
Georgia does not recognize the tort of alienation of affection. This means you cannot sue a third party for purposefully causing the end of your marriage.
So if your spouse has a lover, you cannot sue that lover civilly in Georgia for interfering with and destroying your marriage.
What is Proof of Adultery in Georgia
Proof of adultery in Georgia must be clear and convincing. It requires more than mere suspicion and must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
This could include text messages, emails, or other forms of direct evidence.
In some extreme instances, you may want to hire a private investigator, to collect such evidence for you. Then, that investigator can later present their findings to the court as a witness.
Who Pays for a Divorce, Adultery
In Georgia, the court may consider adultery when deciding on spousal support and division of property.
If a spouse’s adultery is proven to have caused the dissolution of the marriage, this could potentially impact who bears the financial burden of the divorce process.
However, every case is unique and the outcome depends on the specific circumstances.
Generally, we tell our clients not to count on the other spouse paying for your legal bills (unless you have a written agreement of this) – regardless of if there is adultery involved or not. This is because it’s ultimately up to the judge, and it’s better to plan conservatively than risky and be disappointed later on.
While Georgia does not have a homewrecker law, adultery can have significant implications in divorce proceedings.
It’s crucial to consult with a legal professional to understand your rights and potential outcomes.