Published: 5 August 2015
A women who was married to her partner for 20 years before discovering he was involved with numerous different same-sex partners has been told that she can't divorce on the grounds of adultery, as UK law states that adultery only applies when it involves intercourse with a member of the opposite sex.
Before enquiring with a family law firm about obtaining a divorce, the women assumed that she would be able to divorce on the grounds of either unreasonable behaviour or adultery; preferring the latter as it might involve a larger settlement. However, she was informed that the only option available to her was unreasonable behaviour, as her husbands' other sexual relationships were not with a woman.
Divorce law in England and Wales gives 5 main grounds for divorce, which are unreasonable behaviour (which includes physical violence and verbal abuse), desertion (if your husband or wife has left without a good reason), you have lived apart for more than 2 years, you have lived apart for more than 5 years, and adultery.
The official gov.uk website describes adultery as 'your husband or wife had sex with someone else of the opposite sex, and you can no longer bear to live with them.' The laws are different in Northern Ireland and Scotland, but all areas of England and Wales are governed by current UK laws in relation to adultery.
The women has since joined a support group with others in her situation and is calling for the law to be changed as she feels that she is in a small minority of spouses that feel betrayed and yet don't get the recognition they deserve from the divorce system in England and Wales.
Their divorce was based on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, however it made little difference financially to the settlement.
"I am one of the stronger people, and there are many others like me, who are suffering and who continue to suffer as a result of this. It completely cuts underneath you sense of yourself, your sense of marriage", she said.
She went on to say that she feels it's important that people can express themselves and that people are allowed to be who they want to be, without having to lie to themselves or the people closest to them. She also thinks that the law should be updated to reflect attitudes towards sexual orientation in today's society.
A spokesperson for the human rights organisation the Peter Tatchell Foundation said, that while they feel that adultery is an outdated concept of today's marriage laws, "this differential in the law governing same-sex and opposite sex married couples is not equality".
If you suspect that you partner has committed adultery and if your relationship is on the verge of a breakdown the K J Smith Solicitors are here to help. Our friendly team of family law specialists will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family. To discuss your circumstances or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation with one of our team, contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor) or 01256 584000 (Basingstoke).