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Adultery

Divorce

Based on the state's interest in the marital status of its residents, all legislatures had traditionally assigned statutes enumerating the grounds on which a divorce would be granted. These grounds, listed separately in the laws of each jurisdiction, generally included desertion, nonsupport, and adultery.

The basis of adultery as a ground for divorce has been discussed in various cases. There is an overriding public policy in favor of preserving the sanctity of marital relationships and family unity and a fear that adultery will serve to undermine these societal objectives.

Late twentieth-century changes in divorce laws, primarily the enactment of no-fault divorce statutes in many states, have made it easier for couples seeking divorce to end their marriages without having to prove adultery or any other ground. In the past many unhappy couples resorted to trickery to attempt to obtain a divorce through staging the discovery of allegedly adulterous conduct.

Nonetheless, adultery still may be relevant to divorce proceedings in which ALIMONY is an issue. In twenty-seven states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, fault is one factor which courts will consider in deciding whether to award alimony. If the spouse seeking an alimony award committed adultery, he or she will have a more difficult time convincing the court that he or she is entitled to alimony than if he or she had not been unfaithful.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Additional voluntary contribution (AVC) to AirspaceAdultery - Criminal Laws, Enforcement Of Statutes, As A Defense, Divorce, Cross-references