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Campaign to Update UK Adultery Laws

A woman is campaigning to update the adultery laws and the grounds for divorce in the UK after she was unable to divorce her husband citing adultery.

The woman, who spoke to a BBC Radio Four show stated that when she contacted her lawyer to begin divorce proceedings on grounds of adultery against her husband who had been having an affair, she was unable to as he had only had an affair with members of the same sex. Under UK law adultery can only occur with a member of the opposite sex and must involve vaginal intercourse. Therefore, she was unable to divorce her husband on said grounds.

Following the breakdown of her marriage of over 20 years, the woman was forced to cite unreasonable behaviour as the reason for the divorce.

Campaign to Change Definition

Case law defines adultery as "voluntary sexual intercourse between a man and a woman who are not married to each other but one or both of whom is or are married" however, many are now campaigning to get the law changed. Although the financial settlement can often be no different based on the grounds of divorce many people believe that they should be filed for correct reasons.

The woman on BBC stated that although she had no problem with people being gay, she believed that if there is an affair with any member of sex, it counts as adultery. She also stated that people should be themselves and not lie to others and urged grounds for divorce to catch up with the 21st century and the way we live our lives.

Although grounds for divorce differ across the UK, the definition of adultery remains the same in England and the rest of the UK with a campaign being launched after the high-profile incident to change it. However, the definition has been debated. The Equality Network, a Scottish gay rights group, held focus groups with their members when the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 was being debated. The group discussed the definition of adultery across the UK and felt that the law on adultery needed to change. Unreasonable behaviour was considered to be sufficient.

Grounds for Divorce

In England, there are five grounds for divorce including adultery. Other grounds are desertion, when your husband or wife leaves you, separation for two years of more, living apart for more than five years, or unreasonable behaviour. Unreasonable behaviour is one of the most common grounds cited for divorce and can cover numerous aspects of an unhealthy marriage such as fighting, domestic abuse or gambling.

Contact Us

If you require the advice of our family solicitors regarding a divorce, or if you wish to discuss the possibility of obtaining a divorce, we can help. Contact us today for any family related issue by getting in touch through our online contact forms.

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