Condonation: Don’t Legally Forgive his Adultery by Sleeping with Him!
In Virginia, condonation is a defense to a divorce filed on grounds of adultery. Condonation happens when you know that your husband has committed adultery and, after learning of it, you sleep with him.
It works in reverse, too. If you’re the one who committed the adultery, and he sleeps with you after learning of it, he has forgiven you of the adultery. All that really means is that, after you sleep with your spouse, you lose the right to file for divorce on adultery. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a divorce, it just means that you must use no fault grounds instead (unless another fault based ground is available to you). If you committed the adultery, read my blog about the next steps you should take: I Cheated on My Husband: What do I do next?”
You don’t legally forgive him of the adultery if you don’t KNOW about the adultery, or if you only suspect that he has committed adultery. From a sexual health standpoint, I think it’s probably best, even if you only suspect the adultery, that you do everything within your power to make sure either way—but at least you know that, without actually knowing that the adultery has taken place, you’re not giving up any legal rights by sleeping with him. This is a tricky area. If your husband has committed adultery, you’ll find some helpful pointers in my article, “He cheated: Should I get tested?”
The main reason the court cares about adultery is that it affects spousal support. If you have committed adultery, you can’t ask for spousal support from your spouse (unless it would result in what the court calls “manifest injustice). So, if it was a possibility that your husband would ask for spousal support from YOU, his act of adultery would bar him from asking for it. To determine whether he would ask for spousal support from you, read my blog about how spousal support works.
On the other hand, if you’ve committed the adultery, he hasn’t legally forgiven you, and you planned to ask for spousal support, you may be in hot water. Adultery creates a lot of complicated situations, and there are a lot of things that every woman should know about adultery so that you can make sure you’re not giving up any rights. Always remember: sleeping with your partner after learning of an affair legally forgives that affair.