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What constitutes adultery in the UK?

You believe your partner is unfaithful, and you want to get a divorce. But that’s easier said than done in the United Kingdom. Before you can part ways, you have to prove that adultery was committed in the first place.

Speak with an expert divorce solicitor if you are at all uncertain or anxious about the financial aspects of your divorce or the custody of your children.

What is Adultery?

In the UK, adultery is present if a married man has sex with a woman other than his wife; or if a married woman has sex with a man other than her husband.

While some people confuse one for the other, adultery and infidelity are two different things under English law. Adultery refers to sexual intercourse between a man and a woman when they are married to someone else.

Infidelity has another meaning. Here, sexual intercourse is not always involved, but it includes physical and emotional acts disloyal or unfaithful to your partner. These include kissing, dating or any behaviour which is not right in a committed relationship or marriage.

Is Adultery a Crime in The UK?

No, it’s not, but it is one of the reasons for getting a divorce. That may sound simple, but adultery can be difficult to prove because of the following reasons.

Is Adultery a Crime in The UK

First, adultery can only be cited as grounds for divorce if your partner has had sex with a person of the opposite sex. If your partner had a relationship with someone of the same sex, that’s not adultery under UK law. This means you can’t use this as a reason for getting a divorce.

In the same way, adultery is not present if your partner is in a homosexual relationship or has a same-sex extramarital affair.

Adultery Laws UK

To complicate things, you must prove that your marriage has broken down before you can get a divorce. Aside from adultery, there are four grounds for divorce:

  • Unreasonable behaviour – your partner behaves in such a way that you can’t live with that person any longer.
  • Desertion – your partner has deserted you for a continuous period of two years before you file for a divorce.
  • Two years of separation with consent – you and your partner have been separated for at least two years.
  • Five years of separation – both you and your partner have lived apart for a continuous period of five years.

Contrary to popular belief, the use of online dating apps or sites does not constitute adultery. While intimacy may be present when communicating with other people using these apps, that alone doesn’t justify divorce. As explained earlier, there have to be sexual relations with a person of the opposite sex.

How Does Adultery Affect Divorce?

Also, you can’t get a divorce if you continue to live together with your partner. There must be a period of separation for six months or more after you learn that your partner has been unfaithful. If you still live together, you can’t use adultery as an excuse for divorce.

For these reasons, divorce due to adultery is less common than you think. If they believe their partner has been unfaithful, most people cite “unreasonable behaviour” instead.

There are various reasons for getting a divorce, but one thing is clear: it can greatly affect your life and strain your relationship. Therefore, it’s important to get expert legal advice.

Expert Divorce Lawyers in the UK

The compassionate divorce lawyers of Deo Volente (DV) Solicitors in Bedford, UK, can guide you through this difficult and painful process so you can act accordingly. We will help you hurdle this obstacle without going through costly court battles and tense situations.

For more information, visit dvsolicitors.com, call 01234 350 244, or email info@dvsolicitors.com.


DV Solicitors

DV Solicitor, a leading law firm in Bedford & London, offers a wide range of legal services including commercial property, corporate, employment, personal injury and human rights/immigration law. Known for their expertise and client-focused approach.
By: DV Solicitors
Date: July 8, 2021

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