Adultery and divorce


Adultery is defined under UK family law as one party to a marriage having sexual relations outside of the marriage with another person of the opposite sex.

If you want to get a divorce on grounds of adultery, a specialist family law solicitor will help you file the application and ensure the process is as smooth as possible.

Is adultery a ground for divorce in the UK?

In cases of divorce, adultery is one of the five main grounds by which a petition may be filed in England and Wales. A divorce can be granted if it can be shown that one party to a marriage has committed adultery.

Interestingly, adultery is counted as an affair with a person of the opposite sex. However, having an affair with a person of the same sex is counted as ‘unreasonable behaviour’, which is another of the five grounds for divorce.

Can either party use adultery as grounds for divorce?

Adultery is only available as a ground for divorce to the innocent party, meaning the person who did not have the affair.

How do you get a divorce based on adultery?

A petition for divorce must be brought within six months of the innocent party finding out that the adultery has been committed.

In applying for a divorce, the innocent spouse should gather evidence on the alleged affair. The evidence would be required by the court to prove the affair occurred. This may include things like:

  • Dates
  • Times
  • Places

It is important to note that the 'co-respondent' (the person with whom the adulterous affair took place) does not have to be named in a petition for divorce. By doing this you would bring the co-respondent into the divorce proceedings and it is unlikely that co-respondent would co-operate with your divorce petition.

Do you need a solicitor?

If you are thinking about divorcing your partner on the grounds of adultery then you should first discuss your case with a solicitor specialising in divorce.

Adultery can be a more complex claim to make than other grounds for divorce, and your spouse may be more likely to contest it. A divorce solicitor will be able to talk you through the process of making an adultery-based divorce and the time limits you have to petition for that divorce.

Can your dispute be resolved through mediation? Look at our page on family law mediation for answers.

Do you need help filing your grounds for divorce? Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist family law solicitor to help you through the process. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form and we'll call you back.

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