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What adultery means for your divorce

Going through a divorce can be a painful and difficult time for anyone. When adultery is involved, many people expect this to somehow be reflected in their financial settlement. 

As we discussed in our previous post, there is no such thing as a ‘no fault’ divorce in England and Wales. In order to get a divorce, you will need to show that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, using one of five grounds or ‘facts’.


Adultery is one of the five grounds for divorce 

Adultery, the act of a married person (or two married people), engaging in sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex, who they are not married to, can be used as a reason for divorce.

It’s worth noting, that you’re unable to give adultery as a reason for divorce if you lived with your spouse for 6 months after you discovered the adultery. 

It is also possibly to commit adultery after you have separated from your spouse and your spouse could use this as grounds for divorce.


Courts do not take adultery into account when dividing assets 

Although adultery is a reason for divorce, the court will not take it into account when it comes to your financial settlement. In other words, the fact that your spouse had sex with someone else, is not a reason for you to keep the family home or have a larger share of your joint savings.

Financial proceedings actually run separately (but usually at the same time as) the divorce process.

Conduct (both personal and financial) can be taken into account by the court, but only if the conduct is serious enough that to disregard it would be unfair.


What if my spouse spent our savings on his/her affair? 

If your spouse has spent your money on things such as large gifts or the payment of housing costs for the person they were having an affair with, the court can take this into account.

In short, when it comes to deciding how to split your finances, the court will not take into account how you have been emotionally impacted by your spouse’s extra-marital activities. This is because your financial needs (and your spouse’s financial needs) will not be different just because you or your spouse has committed adultery. 

Many people are shocked when they learn that their spouse’s adultery will not be taken into account when it comes to splitting the finances or deciding how to split the marital home.

This isn’t to say that adultery has no effect whatsoever on financial proceedings. Often, a spouse may be feeling guilty about having had an affair and may be more willing to give their husband or wife a better financial settlement that they would have done otherwise. 

Getting legal advice as early on as possible in the divorce process, can give you a better idea of what you can expect from your settlement and can help to put your mind at rest. 

For more information on this subject please visit our Legal Library.


Contact us to see how we can help you with: Divorce and Adultery

For more information on your options call our team on 0845 862 5001 or email

We offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: Princes Exchange, Princes Square, Leeds, LS1 4HY

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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20th March 2017

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