Will my affair or adultery affect my divorce settlement?

November 16, 2020, By Slater Heelis

When a marriage breaks down as a result of the involvement of a third party, we are often asked whether the adultery or affair will affect the divorce financial settlement.

Citing adultery as the reason for divorce is not as commonplace as you may think. According to the latest figures from the ONS from 2018, adultery was only the fourth most commonly cited reason for divorce (after unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation with consent and five years’ separation). The legal definition of adultery is very narrow and cannot be relied on in circumstances where a couple have continued living together for a period or periods in excess totalling six months. This does not, of course, prevent a couple from divorcing, but they must rely on factors other than adultery.

A Pragmatic Approach

Whilst the partner who has not had the affair may feel that they should in some way be compensated for the betrayal, or that the partner who has had the affair should be penalised, the courts take a far more pragmatic approach. They understand that there may be many contributing factors to the breakdown of a marriage and their objective is to reach an outcome which is fair to both parties without apportioning blame.

When considering the appropriate level of financial settlement, the court will consider a number of factors, including the income and earning capacity of both parties, their future financial needs, standard of living, ages, duration of the marriage, contributions and any other factors deemed to be relevant. This list, whilst not exhaustive, does not include an adulterous relationship or affair.

The 1973 legislation which governs divorce is to be overhauled, replacing the requirement to provide evidence of a “fact” with a single statement of irretrievable breakdown and thus removing the so-called “blame game” which family law professional have campaigned for over many years.

Advice on Divorce Settlements

If you are filing for divorce and need advice on a divorce settlement, our expert team are here to help. We work hard to provide an outcome that is fair and have a wealth fo experience, even in the most complex of cases.

For guidance on your next steps, we are here when you need us. Please call us on 0161 969 3131 or fill in our contact form and one of the team will be in touch.