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Adultery and divorce settlements

Could adultery affect my divorce financial settlement?

It may surprise you to learn that the short answer to this question is ‘no, adultery will not affect your divorce settlement’.

When someone believes their marriage has ended as a result of the other party committing adultery, they may feel that, as the ‘injured party’, they should receive a more generous financial settlement.

Whilst it might be viewed as unfair by some, adultery has no bearing on any financial settlement. In nearly all cases, the judge won’t try to blame or penalise either party, except in very rare circumstances. Financial settlements/ entitlements are based on different criteria to the divorce process.

If you are going through a divorce, you’ll find that agreeing a financial settlement with your former partner is key to moving on. It’s vital to find the right solution, as it could affect you financially and emotionally for years to come.

Here are some of the questions we’re most often asked about adultery and how it can have an impact on divorce.

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Is adultery still grounds for divorce?

‘Ground for divorce’ is no longer applicable in English and Welsh divorce law. The introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act on 6 April 2022 means that no blame is based on either party during the divorce proceeding and that you are no longer required to give a reason for your divorce in your application to the court. This means that while adultery may be the reason for your divorce, you do not need to include this in your divorce application or prove that adultery took place before the court will begin processing your divorce.

In court, will my adultery count against me?

No. Traditionally, people believe that the unfaithful party will be treated more harshly in court, but this is no longer true. Judges understand that marital breakdown is hardly ever just one person’s fault, so they do not assign blame according to fidelity. Your adultery won’t affect how your finances as a couple will be divided. Nor will it make any difference to decisions about your children.

Is adultery the same as infidelity?

Whilst the two words are often interchanged, they do not mean the same thing in the context of English law. Adultery specifically applies to full sexual intercourse between a man and woman when at least one of them is married to someone else. Infidelity is a more general term applied to any physical activity with someone other than the person you are in a relationship with.

Is it still adultery if you’re living apart or are legally separated?

Yes, technically it is adultery until you’ve received your decree absolute or final order.

Is it adultery if the infidelity is with someone of the same sex?

No. English law defines adultery as intercourse between a man and a woman. So sexual relations with a member of the same sex is not adultery.

Contact a divorce solicitor today

Whether or not adultery is involved, divorce proceedings can be stressful, so it’s vital to have the right legal support by your side. Our dedicated team can help. Call us now on 0800 422 0123 or contact us online for a free and confidential initial consultation. We have specialist divorce lawyers in BristolLondonManchesterCardiffBirminghamSouthampton and Taunton.


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Rayner Grice


Rayner advises on the issues that arise for an individual following the breakdown of a relationship in relation to divorce/civil partnership dissolution, their financial affairs and their children.
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