Are there any financial implications of committing adultery?
Divorce often comes with serious financial repercussions. So, the very fact that committing adultery can result in divorce, means that it can have indirect financial implications. But does committing adultery have different financial consequences compared to other reasons for divorce? No-Fault Divorce Is Now Divorce Law The divorce law in England and Wales has changed... View Article
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Divorce often comes with serious financial repercussions. So, the very fact that committing adultery can result in divorce, means that it can have indirect financial implications.
But does committing adultery have different financial consequences compared to other reasons for divorce?
No-Fault Divorce Is Now Divorce Law
The divorce law in England and Wales has changed to give way for a no-fault divorce. This means you no longer need to wait for a period of 2 years of separation or blame one party for the breakdown of your marriage. What’s more, it is no longer possible for your spouse to contest the divorce, allowing the divorce to proceed without friction or additional costs.
Key changes to know about No-Fault Divorce
Here is a breakdown of the key divorce law changes that came into effect on 6 April 2022.
- Couples can make a joint application for divorce – The first change is that divorce proceedings no longer must be initiated by one partner alone. Instead, a couple can make a joint application. While that may seem like a technical measure, supporters of the new law argue that it removes an in-built imbalance that undermines attempts to split amicably.
- Minimum of 20 weeks cooling off period – The law lays down a minimum allowable period of 20 weeks between the initial application and the conditional order, and another six weeks between the conditional and final orders. That means that even the quickest divorce will take at least six months to complete.
- Divorce Settlements – It is recommended that the mandatory 20 weeks reflection period is used to discuss and agree arrangements like a financial settlement if the split is inevitable.
- Divorce can be granted without blame – The previous list of five permissible ways to prove the breakdown of marriage has been replaced by a single mechanism. Now all that’s required is for at least one spouse to provide a legal statement to say the marriage has broken down irretrievably. This statement counts as conclusive evidence and cannot be contested.
- Legal Terminology – Some of the terms used in the divorce process have been updated. For example, decree nisi is now called conditional order and decree absolute is called final order.
Does adultery affect my financial settlement?
A common misconception is that where adultery is stated as the reason for the irretrievable breakdown of marriage and consequent divorce, this will result in the party accused of adultery being penalised in the financial settlement.
This is not the case.
In the eyes of the law, there is no reason to treat adultery any differently compared to any of the other available grounds for divorce with respect to a financial settlement.
In fact, in the absence of no-fault divorce, divorcing couples sometimes tick the box of ‘adultery’ on the application, even though there was no adultery (although ‘unreasonable behaviour’ is a more popular option in this scenario) just to initiate the divorce process.
But where adultery has actually occurred, this may cause huge resentment and often leads to difficulty in agreeing to a financial settlement.
The spouse who was cheated on will sometimes seek to extract a much higher level of matrimonial assets than they would otherwise.
Divorces which are suffused in feelings of resentment will often be more expensive than more amicable break-ups because each party is more likely to engage a lawyer (who has fees) and matters can even end up in court (which also have fees).
If you are able to put these feelings aside, you may be able to reach an agreement without spending thousands and thus apply for a quick divorce online.
What is the view of adultery by the courts?
Adultery can increase the likelihood of divorce negotiations breaking down and ending up in court.
However, the court will not treat a divorce that is caused by adultery any differently from a divorce that has non-adulterous roots.
As we have already noted, the grounds for divorce will be the same: the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Therefore the court will apply exactly the same principles to achieve a ‘fair’ financial settlement.
Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out the various factors which a family law court should take into account when deciding on how any assets should be divided, including:
- the welfare of any children under the age of 18 (this is the primary consideration);
- the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
- the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
- the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage; and
- the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage.
Should I admit to adultery?
Sometimes a spouse who is accused of adultery will try and contest the divorce if their husband or wife uses this as a reason on the divorce petition.
This may be a matter of principle (eg if they were falsely accused of having an affair). However, contested divorces often just delay the inevitable – and the no-fault divorce legislation mentioned above will dispense with the ability to contest a divorce.
If both parties want to get divorced, admitting to adultery (whether it happened or not) is often just a practical step to obtaining a decree absolute.
How should I get divorced if using adultery as a reason?
The essential divorce process is the same when using adultery as a reason: it’s just a matter of ticking the right box on the application form. However, it’s important to bear a couple of things in mind:
- The petitioner (person applying for divorce) must submit their divorce petition within 6 months of becoming aware of the adultery.
- The person accused of adultery cannot petition for divorce using the reason of adultery (their spouse must be the petitioner).
Will I have to pay for the divorce and fees if I committed adultery?
There is no difference to the administrative fees of getting divorced just because either party has committed adultery. The processing and court fees are the same whatever the reason for divorce.
However, as with obtaining a financial settlement, the greater likelihood of bad feelings can lead to higher overall divorce costs associated with litigation (solicitors fees etc).
How can Divorce-Online help you today?
Use our online divorce services to obtain a divorce without spending thousands of pounds.
There isn’t a simpler or more cost-effective way to end your marriage than by using our online divorce services. Find out more about how we can help you: