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No Such Thing as Gay Adultery in The UK - Grounds for Divorce Law

A woman has been unable to divorce her husband on the grounds of adultery because he did not commit adultery as he only had an affair with men.

Rather than citing adultery from her husband of 20 years, the woman was forced to cite unreasonable behaviour as the reason for the divorce. The man had affairs with at least ten different men throughout their marriage, and despite denying everything, the woman began divorce proceedings.

The matter, which came to light following a BBC Radio 4 phone in has since received national attention. According to the woman, she assumed that two of the grounds for divorce would be open to her in adultery and unreasonable behaviour, however, she was informed by her lawyer that adultery was not an option.

Although the woman citing for divorce could still obtain a separation through citing unreasonable behaviour as grounds, and that the issue did not affect the financial settlement, she told the BBC that she was in the minority of people in her situation who "care hugely about the betrayal and want to know that somebody somewhere has recognised that"

"It completely cuts underneath your sense of yourself, your sense of your marriage and you wonder why you were married to this person in the first place, did they ever love you?"

Adultery as Grounds for Divorce

Under the current UK law, which the woman is currently attempting to change, states that adultery can only occur between members of the opposite sex and must involve vaginal intercourse. The law applies to same-sex marriages with infidelity having to involve members of the opposite sex.

Despite some stating that the law does not need to be changed, the woman is hoping that a change in the definition of adultery in the eyes of the law will mean that the law reflects “sexual intimacy in the 21st Century.” Grounds for divorce in England and Scotland differ slightly, however, both sets of law have adultery defined in the same way.

Even though many have criticised the oversight in adultery law, there was a debate to potentially change the law in same-sex marriages. 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, however, members stated that they did not feel the law on adultery needed to change.

Grounds for Divorce

In Scotland, there are two grounds for divorce. The marriage has broken down irretrievably or that one of the partners to the marriage has an interim gender recognition certificate can be cited as the reason for divorce. Adultery and unreasonable behaviour fall under the marriage breaking down irretrievably.

Contact Us

Grounds for divorce differ in England and Scotland, with your solicitor being able to inform you of what grounds you can cite if you wish to obtain a divorce. If you require advice on beginning divorce proceedings or if you wish to discuss your options, contact us today using our online contact form.

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