Adultery – all you need to know

 
 

Top London divorce solicitors often discuss adultery with clients, as there are many common misunderstandings about what adultery means in the context of UK family law. There is also a lot of misinformation on the impact of adultery on custody and contact with children and financial settlements.

 
The best London divorce solicitors find that one of the most common misconceptions about adultery is that if you tell a divorce solicitor that your spouse has had an affair they will advise you to start immediate divorce proceedings on the grounds of adultery.  That is not usually the case. An experienced divorce solicitor who is a member of Resolution, the national body of family law solicitors, will look at all your options. Those options could include a reconciliation, going to couple counselling, a trial separation or starting divorce proceedings. 
 
If your spouse has had an affair, it is important that a divorce solicitor does not push you into starting divorce proceedings. You should have time to reflect on what is right for you. In many family situations, the adultery may be a sign that things are not right in the marriage and so the decision to start divorce proceedings may be a clear-cut decision for you. However, the decision to start divorce proceedings should be yours alone, though made with expert legal advice and the support of friends and family.
 

How can OTS Solicitors help?  

 
The family and divorce law team at OTS Solicitors can help you with your divorce, children law and financial settlement questions. If you need to start court proceedings, the divorce and family law team at OTS Solicitors can represent you.
 
The family lawyers at OTS Solicitors know that a separation or divorce can be a traumatic experience and that you need a good solicitor on your side. We will listen to  
you, explain your options clearly, and help support you in your decisions. For more information about how OTS Solicitors can help you please call us on 0203 959 9123. 
 

What is adultery? 

 
You would think that everyone would know what adultery means but there are many common misunderstandings about adultery and UK family law
 
The best London divorce solicitors say that, in UK family law, adultery is defined as sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other, but at least one of whom is a married person.
 

This means that:

 
• If a spouse has had a relationship with a person of the same sex this is not classed as adultery. However, divorce proceedings could be started on the basis of unreasonable behaviour;
• If a spouse has sexual contact that falls short of sexual intercourse then this is not adultery. However, potentially divorce proceedings could be started on the basis of unreasonable behaviour;
• If a husband and wife separate but do not divorce and a spouse forms a new relationship after the separation, then this is still legally classed as “adultery”. This is because the husband and wife are still married to one another. divorce proceedings could be started on the basis of adultery or on the basis of two years separation if the couple have been separated for over two years and both want a divorce;
• If a spouse finds out that adultery has taken place and the couple decide to reconcile, if the reconciliation does not work out then the spouse who found out about the adultery cannot start adultery divorce proceedings if the reconciliation lasted for more than six months after finding out about the adultery. That does not mean that divorce proceedings cannot be started as potentially, if there are grounds to do so, divorce proceedings could be started on unreasonable behaviour.    
  

Naming the third party in the divorce proceedings

  
The top London divorce solicitors say that often the first reaction to finding out about an affair is to want to start divorce proceedings and to name the third party in the divorce proceedings. 
 
Although it is possible to name a third party in adultery divorce proceedings there is no legal requirement to do this. If a third party is named in the divorce proceedings they are referred to as the “co-respondent” and will have to play a part in the divorce proceedings. That is why most divorce solicitors say that naming a co-respondent makes the divorce proceedings a bit longer and complicated to sort out. Therefore, they do not recommend that the third party be named unless there is good reason to do so.
 

Adultery and child custody and contact

 
It is a common misunderstanding that if you start divorce proceedings based on a spouse’s adultery this will put you at an advantage when it comes to the court making decisions about custody and contact of children and making child arrangements orders. 
 
When the court makes decisions about the parenting arrangements for children after separation or divorce the court will not take into account the reasons for the divorce proceedings unless they have a direct bearing on the parent’s ability to parent their children. The court uses a welfare checklist to decide what orders the court believes are in the best interests of children and can make a child arrangements order to sort out residence and contact arrangements. 
 
If a parent is focussed on a spouse’s adultery then this can “backfire” on them in children court proceedings so it is important to get early legal advice about using allegations of adultery in children court proceedings.
 

Adultery and financial settlements 

 
The best London divorce solicitors say that it is a common myth that starting divorce proceedings based on adultery puts you at a financial advantage in financial court proceedings and gets you get a better financial settlement. 
 
The reality is that adultery may have very little effect on the financial settlement. Adultery will usually only have an impact on the financial settlement if a husband or wife is cohabiting with a third party, rather than just being in a casual relationship with them. Even if cohabitation is established it may not have a bearing on the financial settlement as it will all depend on personal and financial circumstances.
 
It can be hard to accept that a court may not punish a spouse financially when making a financial court order because a partner has committed adultery and chosen to end the marriage. However, the best advice is to take legal advice because an experienced London divorce solicitor can advise you on how to secure the best financial settlement to meet your needs and will help you focus on the most relevant and persuasive Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 factors and legal arguments that will maximise your financial settlement.
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
The family and divorce law team at OTS Solicitors can help you with your divorce, children law and financial settlement questions. If you need help with negotiating parenting arrangements or a financial settlement or need to start or respond to court proceedings the family law team at OTS Solicitors can help you.
 
The family law team at OTS Solicitors know that coming to terms with adultery or making the decision to start divorce proceedings is difficult. We will listen to you and to what you want, we will explain your options clearly, and help support you throughout the divorce proceedings and children and financial settlement negotiations or court proceedings.
 
For more information about how we can help you please call us on 0203 959 9123. 
 

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