Adultery is a common reason for Divorce in England and Wales as it is one of the two reasons which can be used if parties are not separated or have not been separated for two years. The other is Unreasonable Behaviour.
Adultery means sexual relations between one party to the marriage and a person of the opposite sex. This can mean a one-off or a longer relationship. It is not possible for a party to commit adultery with a person of the same sex although this could be cited as an element of unreasonable behaviour.
It is also not possible for the party who has committed adultery to issue a Divorce Petition based on their own adultery. This is because adultery is a reason used for a “fault-based” divorce and this involves one person blaming the other.
Sometimes adultery is committed by both parties, perhaps after separation if both have formed new relationships. If so it is open to either party to start divorce proceedings and in practice it does not really matter who does so. It can often be a fairly easy way to divorce as it is not necessary to go into any detail about what the other person has done.
However, if only one person has committed adultery and this has come as a shock to the other person then this can cause great upset. One of the things that they will have to consider is whether to name the third party (the Co-Respondent) in any Divorce Petition.