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Still married but living with someone else? How this could affect your divorce.

Are you still married but living with someone else? Discover how this could affect your divorce and what Slater and Gordon's lawyers can do to help you.

19 June 2018

Situations involving divorce and separation are hardly ever simple and straightforward, especially when it comes to legal matters. This is why separating couples depend on advice from experienced family law solicitors who know how best to navigate difficult situations in order to reach a resolution that works.

A quick guide to the divorce process

For those who are new to the process of getting a divorce, there are a few crucial points to know:

Since April 2022, separating spouses now have the option to apply for divorce either solely or jointly, and you aren’t required to assign blame through a fault-based fact, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour. Instead, you’ll need to complete a statement of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. However, before April 2022 this process was different:

  • One person was required to petition (now apply) the other for divorce - you were unable to petition/apply together
  • A court needed to be convinced that the marriage had irretrievably broken down. This was proven through evidence supporting one of five reasons, which included unreasonable behaviour, adultery and desertion, as well as being separated for two years (if both agreed to the divorce) and being separated for five years (if only one party agreed to the divorce).

A closer look at adultery as a reason for divorce

Before the introduction of the no-fault divorce, one of the most used facts for divorce was adultery. In some of these cases, adultery was very straightforward to prove to a court. It may have been that there was evidence of the infidelity in the form of messages via SMS or social media, the report of private detectives (if you choose to gather evidence in this way), or from one partner catching the other in the act.

It's understandable that a person may no longer wish to remain married to their spouse if they catch them being unfaithful. While some couples may be able to come back from adultery through counselling and hard work, for others this behaviour is a deal-breaker, eroding the trust that the relationship is built upon.

Adultery after separation - how this can affect your divorce

If a married couple are still together and living in the same house and one is unfaithful to the other, this is typically a clear-cut case of adultery. However, things can seem much more complicated if the couple have separated but are still legally married. Our family law solicitors are often asked if living with and being in a sexual relationship with someone else after informally separating from a spouse is a bad idea.

The answer to this is that it may be. Particularly if you’re beginning to merge financial or childcare arrangements with your new partner whilst these are potentially unsettled with your spouse.

It’ll depend on your individual circumstances. If you’re unsure if this can affect your divorce, it’s always best to speak to an expert.

Divorce settlements

The court doesn’t pass any kind of moral judgement when allocating financial settlements in divorce.

On its own, adultery can be seen as a symptom of a failing relationship, not necessarily the sole cause. Courts will only take into account behaviour that is ‘gross and obvious’ when deciding divorce settlements - for example, violence or abuse in the relationship.

Speak to our family law solicitors for advice on divorce

If you want to know more about adultery and divorce, the Slater and Gordon team are happy to help. Our family law experts have dealt with divorce cases of all kinds, so are perfectly placed to answer your questions. Please call on freephone 0330 107 6483 or contact us online for expert advice.

All the above information was correct at the time of publication.

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