Adultery is one of the most common grounds for divorce in the UK. Though many are aware of the everyday definitions of this, the legal definition is somewhat different to this, and this is what we are going to go through with you today.
Adultery is one of five legal grounds to divorce, stating “the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with them”
But what does adultery mean? Legally adultery is defined as “voluntary sexual relations between an individual who is married and someone who is not the individual’s spouse”.
Though this may seem straight forward, its gets more complicated for same sex marriages, civil partnerships and people who have extra-marital relations with someone of the same sex, as lawfully a spouse cannot commit adultery if the second person is of the same sex. Despite this seeming out of touch with the modern day, that is how the current law stands.
Another more complicated part of this ground for divorce is its timing. If you remained in the same house/co-habited with your spouse for six months after the adulterous acts were discovered, the adultery would not be considered by the court as grounds for divorce.
To be classed as adultery the furthest of sexual relations must have taken place. So an online relationship, kissing, meetings in secret, holding hands or anything less that that would not be classed by the court as adultery.
After a separation from a marriage, after which you have found another, the new relationship could be seen as adultery as in the eyes of the count you are still married, and so could be used as grounds for divorce. Similarly, if you learn your spouse committed an adulterous act, but it was before your wedding day, this would not be seen as adultery in the eyes of the court.
If there is no proof of adultery occurring, or the adulterous spouse will not admit this behaviour, it is advisable that you look for other grounds for divorce. Otherwise the case can become complicated and costly.