UK law

Why UK Law Says Adultery Doesn’t Apply In Divorce For Same Sex Couples

Linkilaw Uncategorized

Same-sex marriage has been legalised in the United Kingdom in 2014 (with the exception of Northern Ireland). That’s a great, if not slightly belated, step forward for human rights in our little corner of the world. However, remnants of previous, more conservative times are still present and, frustratingly, can be found in the most confounding legal caveats of UK law.

That is to say, should a same-sex couple want to get divorced, adultery would not quality as an acceptable reason under UK law. The way the Government sees it, adultery can only involve sexual conduct between two persons of the opposite sex. So for instance, if one person of a married lesbian couple cheats on the other with another woman, UK law will not view it as cheating.

This vastly outdated, paradoxical rule can create frustration for opposite-sex spouses, too: if a husband cheats on his wife with another man or a wife cheats on her husband with another woman, the person who has been cheated on cannot quote adultery as a ground for divorce in court. 

To make the situation more difficult, “you can’t give adultery as a reason if you lived with your husband or wife for six months after you found out about (the adultery),” the Government’s website states.

Defining Challenges

What is most irksome, perhaps, is the reason for this entire paradox lies in the Government’s inability to define broadly enough the consummation of marriage, and consequently, adultery. This is how The Guardian explains the legal perplexity that has left many same-sex couple feeling, once again, discriminated against:

“Those who draft the parliamentary bills have been unable to define what constitutes consummation of a same-sex union. Consequently there is no provision for divorce on the grounds of non-consummation of a gay marriage. That problem also means that same-sex couples who wish to divorce will not be able to cite adultery with someone of the same sex – the civil servants similarly struggled to find a definition of adultery between two men or two women.”

The Alternative

With the current legal flaws in place, the closest ground a gay or lesbian spouse filing for divorce can rely on is unreasonable behaviour. However, many are of the opinion we should disregard the five divorce grounds altogether and move towards a no-fault divorce system, i.e. not having to prove to the court either of the spouses has engaged in wrongdoing.

If you are going through the painful process of getting divorced, or consider filing for one soon, read our blog post Steps to an Amicable Divorce. This will help you familiarise yourself with all key aspects of UK law regarding a divorce.

How To Deal With This Aspect Of UK Law?

It’s a tricky one we know but if you’re in a same-sex marriage and have legal concerns then you need to put yourself at ease by speaking with a lawyer. We can get you a range of free quotes from different lawyers specialised in this area of UK law.

Simply click below and fill out the booking form on the next page to get started.

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