What Is Adultery And How Can It Be Proved?

by | Nov 5 2021 | Family Law

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By Alex Ashcroft
Alex heads up LGBT Lawyers' web design and writes about LGBT legal issues in his spare time. While not part of the LGBT community himself, Alex is an avid supporter of LGBT rights. With interests in politics and connections in Brighton's LGBT music scene, Alex brings another valuable perspective to LGBT life.

In the UK, there are five reasons that can be used to initiate divorce proceedings, one of which is adultery. However, there are many questions surrounding adultery as it can be very difficult to prove. Therefore, we have explained everything you need to know about adultery, how you can prove adultery, and the alternative routes you can take if it’s not applicable.

Women discussing with a lawyer how she can prove adultery

What is adultery? 

Adultery is when a married person has sexual relations with another person of the opposite sex other than their legal partner. In the eyes of the law, the ground of adultery refers explicitly to the following: 

  • A married man having sexual intercourse with a woman other than his wife
  • A married woman having sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband

It’s important to note you must not remain living with your partner for 6 months or more after adultery has taken place, if you wish to cite adultery as the ground for divorce. 

What requirements do I need to meet to initiate divorce proceedings on the ground of adultery? 

There are various requirements that the court requires you to complete before you can initiate a divorce on the ground of adultery in the UK. For example: 

  • You must be married to your spouse for at least a year before you can file for divorce.
  • After discovering that your spouse has committed adultery, you have a six-month timeframe to file for divorce. 
  • Your partner must have had sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. Other types of sexual activity outside of sexual intercourse are not considered adultery. 
  • If it was your partner who committed adultery, you must be the one to file for divorce. The person who committed adultery cannot be the one to start the divorce. 

If you’re unsure about the legal requirements surrounding adultery or divorce, we can help. Please get in contact with us on 020 3795 9020

How can I prove that my spouse has committed adultery? 

Typically, when your spouse commits adultery, they will not admit that they have been unfaithful, and it can be very difficult to prove. Therefore, we have listed some ways you can collect evidence below: 

  • Check emails and letters addressed to your spouse. 
  • Investigate their phone log and text messages. 
  • If you share a bank account, check the bank statements for evidence of restaurant and hotel bookings. 

Please note, it is likely to cause tension when investigating the actions of your spouse. Therefore, if they do not admit to committing adultery, you may be better suited to filing the divorce petition using the ground of unreasonable behaviour. For more information on unreasonable behaviour, please visit our article titled Unreasonable Behaviour Divorce | Everything You Need To Know.

If adultery took place while my partner and I were separated, can it still be used as a ground for divorce? 

In short, yes, it can still be used as a ground for divorce. 

The legal definition of adultery is an individual having sexual relations with someone other than their spouse, even if they are separated and living apart. Furthermore, if you have acquired consent from your partner to engage in sexual activities, it is still considered by law as adultery. 

If you are looking to start divorce proceedings, get in contact with us on 020 3795 9020.

What if I can’t prove adultery? 

If your partner has been unfaithful with someone of the same sex, they haven’t committed adultery as by law, adultery relates explicitly to sexual intercourse with the opposite sex. Furthermore, this applies to homosexual relationships when a person commits a same-sex affair. Therefore, if you’re unable to use adultery as a reason for divorce due to being unable to prove it, or because you’re in a same-sex relationship, you can cite one of the other four grounds, including:

  • Two years separation with consent
  • Five years separation without consent 
  • Desertion 
  • Unreasonable behaviour

It’s important to note, unreasonable behaviour relates to individuals that have inappropriate relationships with other individuals. Therefore, if you’re in a same-sex marriage or if your partner has been unfaithful to you with someone of the same same-sex and you’re unable to cite adultery, you can pursue a divorce, citing the ground of unreasonable behaviour. 

Will the legislation regarding adultery change in the future? 

The legal definition of adultery is becoming outdated with every day that passes in the UK, especially when it comes to same-sex relationship couples. Since 2014, same-sex couples have been able to enter into a marriage under the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act. Therefore, there have been various calls to readdress the UK legislation regarding the discrimination against same-sex relationships not regarding adultery as a ground. 

How can LGBT Lawyers help? 

Whether you need help starting divorce proceedings on the ground of adultery, unreasonable behaviour or any of the other grounds, we can help. Here at LGBT Lawyers, we can connect you with an experienced family law lawyer who will ensure you have met all the requirements that the courts require you to fulfil regarding adultery. 

Most importantly, we can ensure that you have an expert by your side to ensure you have all the relevant documents and papers filled in correctly and served with the correct timeframe. Furthermore, a lawyer will be able to guide you through the divorce procedure from start to finish and prevent future legal disagreements with your spouse from arising in the future through careful planning. 

If you’re unsure what ground take to start your divorce petition, take a look at our divorce-process guide for more information.

Do you need help drafting a divorce petition?

If you are looking for a lawyer to draft a divorce peition, look no further. We can help you today. 

SPEAK TO OUR TEAM ON 020 3795 9020 

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