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The impact of adultery on divorce in the UK

The impact of adultery on divorce in the UK

The law on divorce is changing on . At that point the only ground for divorce will be the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, it will no longer be necessary to provide a reason such as adultery. Read more about the introduction of no fault divorce here.

If you were to believe the media and popular TV culture, you’d think that adultery and divorce went hand in hand in the UK. In fact, adultery is used as the reason for the breakdown of just 10% of marriages in England and Wales*.

What is adultery?

For the purposes of divorce law in England and Wales adultery is committed when a married person has sex with someone of the opposite sex, other than their husband or wife.

You might be surprised to learn that having sex with someone of the same sex is not considered adultery in divorce in UK law. Someone in a same sex marriage or civil partnership is not considered to have committed adultery (in law at least) if they have sexual relations with someone of the same sex.

Of course, you may consider your partner has been unfaithful if they have a close emotional relationship with someone else that you feel is inappropriate. This would not be classed as adultery under UK law.

How does adultery affect a divorce in the UK?

From the nature of enquiries that we receive there is a perception that if a partner has committed adultery, it will in some way effect the divorce outcome, especially in terms of the financial settlement or arrangements made for the care of the children.

In reality adultery has very little impact on a divorce case, in legal terms at least. Using adultery as the reason for divorce can often make a case more complicated as if your spouse is unwilling to admit adultery you will need to try and prove that adultery has been committed, which can be difficult.

Who pays for divorce when there is adultery?

Where one party has committed adultery there is often a desire for that person to be punished and made to pay.Read More