The sad truth is that people don’t always make wise decisions when looking for someone to marry. They ignore the advice and warnings of friends and relatives only to discover later on that their choice might not have been a wise one. This is particularly true when someone marries a person believed to be the perfect soul mate only to learn that the individual is a prostitute or a convicted felon. Beyond the obvious relationship issues that might exist, there are legal implications and complications of which individuals entering into or already in a Virginia marriage to a felon or to a prostitute should be aware.
No Restrictions on Marrying a Felon
Marrying someone in not only Hampton, Virginia, but all over the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a relatively simple process. Individuals who are at least 16 years of age can obtain a marriage license by completing an application at the Circuit Court clerk’s office and paying a license tax. If either of the parties is younger than 18 years of age, he or she is considered a minor for whom a parent or guardian must give written consent. Consent can be waived in situations involving a pregnancy that is verified by a certificate from a physician or in cases in which the minor has been declared emancipated by a judge.
Once the license is issued, the parties have 60 days within which to be married in a ceremony performed by a minister, judge or any person authorized by a court to officiate at marriage ceremonies. Other than restrictions on marriages between relatives or on individuals who were previously married and have not obtained a divorce, there are no restrictions on Virginia marriage to a prostitute or to a felon.
The Effect of a Felony Conviction on a Marriage: Virginia Divorce From a Felon
While a criminal record will not prevent a Virginia marriage to a felon, a conviction of a felony after the wedding could be grounds for Virginia divorce from felon. The spouse of a convicted felon has grounds for divorce under Virginia law provided the following criteria are met:
- The conviction occurred during the marriage
- A judge imposed a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year
- The couple did not live together after the spouse of the felon became aware of the incarceration
A felony conviction cannot be grounds for divorce if the sentence imposed on the felon did not include imprisonment. For instance, sentencing someone to probation instead of imprisonment does not provide grounds for divorce. Another point to keep in mind about using a felony conviction as grounds for a divorce is that either party to the marriage can use it. The convicted felon can use his or her own conviction and imprisonment to obtain a divorce.
Another implication of marriage to a felon is the extent to which the fact of the conviction can become an issue in child custody proceedings. Courts in Virginia resolve custody disputes based upon the best interests of the child. A history of sexual abuse or family abuse, particularly as evidenced by a felony conviction of one of those offenses, could prevent a parent from being awarded custody and could place limitations on the individual’s visitation rights.
A Virginia Marriage To a Prostitute Could Have Legal Implications for Both Parties
Prostitution is a crime under Virginia law. Any person accepting money for engaging in the following acts is a prostitute under the law:
- Crimes against nature as defined in section 18.2-361 of the Code of Virginia
Being a prostitute is a Class 1 misdemeanor, but engaging in the acts defined under 18.2-361 can be prosecuted as either a Class 6 or a Class 3 felony. If the felony conviction results in incarceration, it could form the basis for grounds for a divorce.
Someone married to a prostitute could find themselves in trouble for violating the law because of what his or her spouse has done. For example, if prostitution is committed in the home in which a couple resides, the law defines such place as a “bawdy place” which could subject the otherwise innocent spouse to prosecution under section 18.2-347 of the Code of Virginia.
If a person married to a prostitute knows that his or her car or other motor vehicle is being used to commit prostitution, the vehicle’s owner could be prosecuted for aiding prostitution. It is also unlawful for a person to receive money earned by a prostitute, so someone whose spouse is engaging in prostitution could be at risk of violating the law if he or she knows the source of the money coming into the household is from the crime of prostitution.
Grounds for Divorce From a Prostitute Might be Difficult to Prove
Although prostitution is not one of the specific grounds for divorce in Hampton, Virginia, a spouse who learns that his or her spouse is a prostitute might be able to use adultery as a fault ground for divorce. It should be kept in mind that proving that a spouse is engaging in sexual relations with someone outside of the marriage can be difficult. Because prostitution is a crime, a person sued for divorce on the grounds of adultery based upon activities as a prostitute could exercise the right not to testify by invoking the protection of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Under Virginia laws, judges cannot use the exercise of one’s constitutional rights against the person defending against a divorce from prostitute.
Unusual Situations Require Superior Legal Counsel and Advice
Resolving complications arising from being married to someone incarcerated for a felony conviction or from a Virginia marriage to a prostitute requires representation by experienced and knowledge attorneys. At the Smith Law Firm, PLC, our attorneys are dedicated to assisting individuals in solving troublesome situations that can arise in a marriage.