The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Adultery
  • Meaning of adultery
  • Intolerable
  • Living together after knowledge of adultery
  • Co-respondent
  • Proof of adultery
  • Divorce law reform

The Family Procedure Rules 2010, SI 2010/2955 (FPR 2010) have introduced a change in the terminology in divorce proceedings. There are, however, some inconsistencies between the terminology used in the rules, which use the new terms, and those referred to in the forms which refer to old terms. Divorce proceedings are referred to as matrimonial proceedings.

Proceedings for divorce (or a matrimonial order) must be commenced by an application for a matrimonial order which is still referred to in the forms as a petition.

Meaning of adultery

There is one ground for a divorce, and that is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. However, the court cannot make a finding of irretrievable breakdown unless it is satisfied that one or more of the five facts set out in section 1(2) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973), has been proved.

Irretrievable breakdown of a marriage may be proved if the petitioner can satisfy the court that the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent.

In the context of a petition for divorce, adultery is the voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other but at least one of whom is a married person.

With effect from 13 March 2014 MCA 1973 has been amended by the