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, 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.
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.
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.
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