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Connivance

divorce plaintiff defense consent

The furtive consent of one person to cooperate with another in the commission of an unlawful act or crime—such as an employer's agreement not to withhold taxes from the salary of an employee who wants to evade federal INCOME TAX. The false consent that a plaintiff gave to a defendant's past conduct during their marriage which the plaintiff presently alleges as a ground for DIVORCE.

Connivance has been used as a defense primarily in an action for divorce based upon ADULTERY. In situations where connivance is used, the facts must establish that the plaintiff either consented or knowingly acquiesced to the adulterous conduct of the spouse or created the opportunity for adultery by persuading someone to seduce the spouse. It is considered a logical extension of the equitable MAXIM of clean hands in that it would be unfair to permit a plaintiff to obtain judicial relief for a situation which he or she created. Practically speaking, however, connivance is rarely asserted as a defense. The modern trend in divorce laws is that there is little benefit to continuing a marital relationship between partners so indifferent to each other that they consent to a serious violation of their marital vows.

The defense of connivance cannot be asserted in an action based upon a state's no-fault divorce laws.

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