Strictly Come Dancing is back again! Each series seems to herald the breakdown of relationships and marriages –that of Louise and Jamie Redknapp probably being the most well known. The show’s intimate routines and long schedules seem here to stay so it’s on the cards that the strictly curse will strike again.

Infidelity does of course blight many marriages but you would probably be surprised at what the law says about it.

To many, the term “adultery” may simply mean your partner being unfaithful. You may consider this to be subjective and that there is a broad scope of behaviour that could fall under this definition, from engaging in flirtatious messages or being active on dating websites, to engaging in sexual intercourse – however you would be wrong.

For the purpose of legal proceedings, UK law defines adultery as a husband or wife having sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex. Anything short of that would instead come under the category of” unreasonable behaviour “and that would need to be relied upon as the basis for a divorce application instead.

So same sex spouses or civil partners CANNOT commit adultery with a same sex 3rd party – this might be considered discriminatory or unfair but the definition of adultery has not changed since the introduction of same sex marriages.

We all know couples too where one half seems born to stray and the other to constantly forgive and there is food for thought there too in terms of the law’s approach because the full legal test of adultery that may be relied on to seek a divorce goes beyond the fact that sexual intercourse has occurred between your spouse/civil partner and a 3rd party of the opposite sex. The full fact to be established is this:-

“The Respondent (i.e. the guilty party) has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the Respondent”

So what’s “intolerable”? Whilst it may mean many different things to us, so far as the law is concerned if, for whatever reason, you find out that your civil partner or spouse has committed adultery, but you then live together as a couple for a period, or combination of periods, exceeding 6 months after that discovery, then you cannot satisfy that test. Instead, assuming that the decision is made to divorce /dissolve the civil partnership after all, that would need to either be based on ‘unreasonable behaviour’ instead or alternatively would need to be deferred until the full fact is once again satisfied following fresh adultery occurring /being discovered within a new 6 month time frame.

Perhaps now is the time to also add that evidence of adultery may be a little difficult to obtain in the absence of admission – so it would rarely be advisable to issue proceedings citing adultery without first having a signed confession statement from your ex.

So, it all goes to show that there is often more than first meets the eye – both on the dance floor and in the eyes of the law…!

If your partner has committed adultery or has been unfaithful to you and you wish to understand your options, then please contact our friendly expert legal team on 0161 930 5151 or

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