Brief Fact Summary. Testimony revealed that appellant, a married man, had spent significant amounts of time away from his home with co-respondent, a woman in a separate marital relationship. Appellant’s wife was granted a divorce based on appellant’s adultery.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. To prove adultery through circumstantial evidence, it must be established that there was both an opportunity and a disposition to commit the act.
In all appeals in equity, the chancellor's findings of fact, based upon evidence taken in open court, will be sustained, unless the Court of Appeals is convinced that such findings are clearly unwarranted by the evidence in the record.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Did the evidence support appellant’s wife’s charge of adultery?
Held. The conduct of appellant and Edith, both married individuals, is inconsistent with innocence. The court’s ruling is upheld.
In a divorce suit the burden of proof is on the complainant, but an adultery charge need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence must instead be so clear, satisfactory, and convincing as to lead the unprejudiced mind of a reasonable and prudent man to that conclusion.
Circumstantial evidence required to prove adultery must show: 1) an opportunity to commit the offense; 2) and a disposition to commit it. In the instant case appellant and co-respondent had numerous opportunities to commit adultery, and disposition to commit adultery may be inferred from the conduct of the parties and the surrounding circumstances.
Discussion. The Court provides a clear explanation of the burden of proof required to prove adultery in divorce and the requirements to find adultery occurred from circumstantial evidence. Based on the facts the Court found that sufficient circumstantial evidence was present to find that adultery had occurred.