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Matrimonial & Family Law Specialists

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Vines Legal's A-Z of All Things Family and Matrimonial; A for Adultery

Welcome to our Alphabet Information Series. Today’s topic is Adultery. 

What is Adultery?

Well, that may sound a very obvious question but actually the Law has a very narrow definition. We know those who have experienced this may feel very strongly about what it is and isn’t considered infidelity but, quite specifically, Adultery as defined by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is “consenting sexual intercourse between either the husband or wife and another person of the opposite sex”.

When is adultery not adultery?

This has a lot more answers; for example using an internet dating site is not. Meeting up with someone for a drink or meal may be a date but also this isn’t classed as adultery. “Sexting” or frequent texting of an intimate nature isn’t considered adulterous even though the intention is there. Actual sexual intercourse needs to be involved. 

Did you know?

  1. You cannot commit adultery with someone of the same sex? Even if your spouse has consenting sexual relations outside of marriage, if it is with someone of the same gender, this cannot be classed as adultery.
  2. You cannot petition based on your own adultery.
  3. Adultery can only be used as a reason for divorce if the proceedings start within 6 months of the adultery coming to light. Therefore there is only a short time in which to decide whether or not they can forgive their partner. Couples try to move on, but find that they can’t and by that point it is often too late to rely on their adultery.

Many of these situations may feel like a case of adultery, but won’t be legally recognised as a reason for divorce. If this is the case, and you would like to petition for a divorce, then you may be able to use ‘unreasonable behaviour’ instead.

 If you have any queries regarding the above information or would like any further advice remember obtaining accurate legal information from the outset can be vital in the resolution of your matter and can make the process less stressful. If you are considering a divorce or your partner has requested it, call 01246 555 610 to arrange a free, no obligation consultation with one of our experienced solicitors.

By Administrator on 3 Sep 2019, 16:29 PM

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