Does Adultery Affect Divorce Settlement?

Request a call from a family law solicitor


Does Adultery Affect Divorce Settlement?

Adultery, a deeply personal and often emotionally charged issue, is an often-discussed subject when it comes to divorce proceedings in the United Kingdom.

While it is no longer necessary to prove fault to obtain a divorce in the UK, as the country has adopted a ‘no-fault’ divorce system, the occurrence of adultery can still be relevant in certain aspects of the divorce process.

Our panel of family law solicitors are well aware of the emotional toll going through divorce proceedings as a result of adultery can take. Our experts work hard to take away some of the stress from divorcing couples by providing them with expert legal advice. Please get in touch today to find out more about our services.

What is considered as adultery?

In divorce proceedings in the United Kingdom, adultery is defined as a husband or wife engaging in a sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex, and this act is considered a breach of the marital contract. However, it is essential to note that the legal definition of adultery is narrow and typically requires sexual intercourse to be proven. Emotional affairs or other forms of non-sexual infidelity may not qualify as adultery in the legal sense.

Is adultery grounds for divorce in the UK?

Under previous divorce legislation, a spouse could file for divorce on the grounds of adultery, alongside desertion, unreasonable behaviour, and separation. However, with the introduction of ‘no-fault’ divorce laws, there’s no longer a requirement to provide reasons for the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of a marriage.

Consequently, adultery is no longer explicitly recognised as a sole reason for divorce in the UK. Nevertheless, it can still be referenced as an instance of unreasonable behaviour within divorce proceedings.

Does adultery affect divorce settlement?

It is a common misconception that adultery holds significant weight over the outcome of a divorce settlement in the UK. However, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, the grounds for divorce typically hold little relevance in divorce financial settlement negotiations, as all financial arrangements must adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

According to English law, divorce courts rarely, if ever, take into account the grounds for divorce or the behaviour of either spouse when determining the division of assets in a financial settlement.

Instead, various factors are considered, such as the duration of the marriage, the presence of children, the financial needs of each party, as well as their respective incomes and savings. However, instances where substantial amounts of money have been expended due to adultery may become relevant.

Nevertheless, emotions inevitably influence the process. Sentiments of betrayal or remorse might lead one partner to adopt a more aggressive stance during negotiations. For example, a spouse who feels aggrieved might seek a larger share of assets if they are the victim of adultery, even if adultery has minimal bearing on the divorce proceedings.

Contrarily, a spouse confessing to adultery might feel compelled to offer more than required, driven by feelings of guilt, which may not be advantageous to their own interests. Therefore, seeking guidance from family and divorce solicitors becomes crucial for both parties.

Does adultery in divorce affect child custody?

Child custody is a delicate matter that demands tactful management, with the primary consideration being the well-being of the child in any divorce scenario. Despite the emotional turmoil that adultery may incite between partners, it is generally deemed irrelevant in determining child custody arrangements. However, courts consistently prioritise the welfare, safety, and overall welfare of the child.

For instance, if a parent’s new partner, with whom they engaged in adultery, poses a threat to the child’s safety, it could impact custody decisions. Nevertheless, adultery alone does not serve as a decisive factor in child custody determinations.

Is it adultery if it occurs with someone of the same sex?

If your partner has engaged in infidelity with someone of the same sex, they have not committed adultery, as adultery, according to the law, specifically relates to sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex. This legal framework applies similarly to homosexual relationships when an individual is involved in a same-sex affair. 

How can solicitors help to protect your assets in divorce?

Solicitors specialising in family law can provide tailored legal advice based on the specific circumstances of your case. They can assess your assets, liabilities, income, and other relevant factors to develop a strategy for protecting your assets.

Solicitors can negotiate with your spouse’s legal representation to reach a fair and equitable settlement regarding the division of assets. They can advocate on your behalf to protect your interests and ensure that any settlement reached reflects your contributions to the marriage and your financial needs post-divorce.

Family law solicitors can help ensure that assets are accurately valued during divorce proceedings. This includes properties, businesses, investments, pensions, and other assets. Accurate valuation is essential for determining the equitable division of assets and ensuring that each party receives a fair share.

If negotiations fail to reach a settlement, solicitors can represent you in family court proceedings. They can present your case effectively, advocate for your interests, and provide expert legal guidance throughout the litigation process.

They can also facilitate mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution to resolve issues related to asset division amicably. These approaches can be less adversarial and costly than litigation and may lead to more satisfactory outcomes for both parties.

Our panel of divorce solicitors

Our panel of friendly and professional divorce lawyers have the expertise and experience to deal with your case professionally and with empathy. They will guide you through the divorce application process, helping you to make the difficult decisions necessary when filing for divorce.

Our panel of divorce solicitors and experienced family law firms will help you to navigate a range of issues and disputes, such as financial arrangements and will assist you in reaching an agreement on such issues.

Each solicitor we work with is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

If you are wondering “does adultery affect divorce settlement?”, our panel of family law solicitors will provide pragmatic legal advice and assistance, guiding you through every step of the process.

Please note we are not a firm of solicitors. We maintain a panel of trusted and regulated legal experts. If you contact us in relation to a case, we may pass your case on to a panel firm in return for a fee from our panel firms. We will never charge you for passing on your case to a panel firm.


Divorce Proceedings

Ancillary Relief

Domestic Abuse

Child arrangements

Expert Family Law

Keep up to date with the latest family law news