Definition of Adultery Pertaining to Divorce

By Beverly Bird

Sometimes, the meaning of a word is much more complex when it's used in the context of law. Most people know what adultery is – a spouse has had sexual relations with someone other than the person he's married to. When it pertains to divorce, however, there may be other nuances that can vary from state to state.

Sometimes, the meaning of a word is much more complex when it's used in the context of law. Most people know what adultery is – a spouse has had sexual relations with someone other than the person he's married to. When it pertains to divorce, however, there may be other nuances that can vary from state to state.

Is It Adultery if You Don't Actually Have Sex?

Technically, sexual intercourse is required in most states to substantiate a charge of adultery. But some state's legislative codes are vague, such as South Carolina's. You may be charged with adultery in divorce court even if all you did was hold hands with your paramour in a public restaurant. The hand-holding can provide proof that you had the inclination to stray, which can be pivotal to divorce proceedings. If you've never laid a hand on the individual your spouse thinks you committed adultery with, you're probably safe because emotional affairs usually don't count.

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Proof Is Required

Most state courts do not require that your spouse produce visual evidence or hard proof to support an adultery claim. Circumstantial evidence is the norm and it focuses on two issues – whether you had opportunity and if you were inclined to have an affair. Your spouse might be able to prove your inclination through emails, text messages or even photographs. Opportunity presents more of a legal hurdle. Your spouse would have to establish that you were alone with your paramour for a sufficient period of time to have engaged in sexual relations.

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How to Prove Adultery for Divorce in South Carolina

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Adultery Divorce Laws

In 2010, New York became the last state in the country to adopt no-fault divorce. No matter where you live, you no longer have to prove fault, such as adultery, to get a divorce. In 17 states, you don’t even have a choice: You can file only on no-fault grounds. In these jurisdictions, your spouse may be guilty of infidelity, but the courts don’t care. Most other states, however, consider adultery a ground for divorce.

What Constitutes Adultery in an Ohio Divorce?

Almost half of all states no longer recognize adultery as an acceptable ground for divorce, but Ohio isn’t one of them. The state’s divorce laws pertaining to adultery are hazy, however. Although its statutes list adultery as an available ground, they don’t go much further than that.

When a Spouse Will Not Agree to a Divorce in Maryland

Sometimes, ending a marriage is not something both spouses want. While divorce may be the right choice in the eyes of one spouse, the other may think it's a bad idea and refuse to participate or assist in the divorce process. Although an uncooperative spouse cannot stop a divorce, his actions can sometimes delay and frustrate the proceedings. Luckily, in Maryland, there are ways to overcome these roadblocks and get the divorce you want, and there's nothing your spouse can do to stop it.

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