To name, or not to name, that is the question in adulterous divorce

7th March 2015 by


Adultery is one of the grounds for divorce applicable in English and Welsh family law. Alongside the fact of adulterous behaviour the petitioner must also state that they find it intolerable to continue living with their spouse. The adultery only has to have occurred once for the petitioner to find it intolerable to continue the relationship.

Although it can seem reasonable and desirous to identify the person who has committed adultery with your spouse, naming a co-respondent can cause difficulties during the divorce proceedings.

It is not necessary to name a co-respondent. Indeed, when a third party is identified, the divorce petition must be served upon them and they must comply by returning the forms. In many cases, this causes separate delays and complications.

The only time the court would require the co-respondent to be named is if the petitioner wishes to seek an order for costs against the third party.

Healys’ divorce solicitors in London and Brighton can advise clients seeking a divorce on the various considerations to make when thinking about whether to name a co-respondent.

The respondent may be more likely to agree to the divorce on the ground of adultery if the third party is not named, and the court will not require any further evidence if he/she cooperates.

Why choose adultery as the ground for divorce

In legal terms, a court will not look favourably or unfavourably on either party to a divorce based on adultery. Some spouses feel that the court should “punish” the adulterous spouse by way of a punitive financial settlement. However, in matters relating to the financial claim the grounds for divorce will not be considered. Once the decree absolute is granted, the only consideration for the court, in any financial order ruling, will be fairness and giving each spouse the means to, wherever possible, support themselves and their dependents.

However, there may be some occasions when using the ground of adultery is advantageous. Although many divorces based on adultery are far from ‘amicable’ the respondent may well approach the proceedings feeling somewhat guilty and therefore ready to co-operate. He or she may also wish to remarry quickly and this can also help the proceedings move along in a timely fashion.

It is important to note at this point that the spouse who has committed adultery cannot use it as the ground for divorce. The ‘wronged’ party must be the one who petitions for divorce. Plus, under UK family law, adultery can only be committed with a person of the opposite sex, so if a husband has cheated with another man, the spouse will have to apply for a divorce or civil-partnership dissolution on the ground of unreasonable behaviour.

Healys’ family lawyers for divorces involving adultery

If you are considering naming a co-respondent in divorce, or you have been named as a co-respondent, Healys’ team of divorce solicitors in London and Brighton can offer expert legal advice for your circumstances.

We have many years’ experience in such matters and can help you make difficult legal decisions to protect your best interests.

Call our London or Brighton offices today, so that we can discuss your options.