Divorce, Adultery and New Relationships: What You Need to Know

Posted on: 6 mins read
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Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

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In 2021 it was announced that Fantastic Four actor, Ioan Gruffudd was divorcing his wife of thirteen years, Alice Evans. He went public with his new girlfriend, Bianca Wallace, and his wife has since made accusations that he was having an affair during the marriage.

A Family Solicitor at Simpson Millar’s Manchester office talks about how the Court addresses adultery, the impact of you or your ex entering into a new relationship whilst still legally married, and financial settlements.

If you’d like legal advice about getting a divorce, please get in touch with our Divorce Solicitors.

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For more information about how we can help with your divorce, get in touch with our team on 0808 239 3465 or 

What is Adultery?

Adultery is when a married person has sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex, who isn’t their husband or wife.

It may come as a surprise that having sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex is not considered to be adultery in the context of divorce. This means that someone who’s in a same sex marriage and has sexual intercourse with someone else of the same sex, this isn’t considered to be adultery.

While you may deem the act as your partner being unfaithful, it isn’t classed as adultery under UK divorce law.

Adultery as the Reason for Divorce

With no-fault divorce being introduced, there’s no longer a requirement to place blame when applying for a  divorce. Instead, the fact that you’re applying for a divorce is proof enough that the marriage has broken down.

Having said that, you may still be filing for divorce as a result of your partner committing adultery.

Defended Cases

Previously, you used to have to prove that your partner had committed adultery.

If your partner refused to admit to their adultery or sign a confession statement, you had to gather and disclose evidence to the Court of the adultery. It’s difficult to prove beyond an intention to commit adultery and an intention to commit alone will not satisfy the Court.

Defended cases can end up costing you more in legal costs because of the time taken to draw up statements as evidence and attend contested Court hearings.

However, with the divorce law having been updated, you no longer have to prove adultery to the satisfaction of the Courts. With no-fault divorces being introduced, this need has been removed.

If you wish to divorce your partner if they have committed adultery, you simply don’t have to prove it happened.

a couple sat at opposite ends of a bed, looking away from each other

The Impact of New Relationships on Financial Settlements

It is not uncommon for both divorcees to have a new partner and live with them whilst still seeking to reach a financial settlement with their former partner.

When deciding how to divide the matrimonial assets, the Court will primarily consider what is fair and reasonable along with both of your respective needs.

If one of you is receiving financial support or is reliant on a new partner, the Court is likely to see you as needing less. The Court may take into account the resources of the new partner when considering a fair division of the matrimonial assets.

The Court will also consider the seriousness and strength of any new relationship, its length as well as the needs of the married couple and the new partner’s financial resources.

If you are considering starting a new relationship and you’re still married, or you wish to divorce your husband, wife or civil partner, contact our Family Law Solicitors for expert legal advice, tailored to your situation.

How to Apply for a Divorce

To apply for a divorce, you will need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate and you and your partners personal details.

There is a £593 fee when applying for divorce, but you may be able to get support to help pay this. If you’re on a low income or receive certain benefits, you may be entitled to help with the divorce fee.

The divorce application is now online, which can be found on the Gov.UK website.

What Happens After a Divorce Application

You can file for divorce jointly with your spouse or alone. Once your application has been received, it will be checked and verified. You will both receive a notice that your application has been issued, a copy of your application, and a case number.

If you applied by yourself, the Court will send a notification to your spouse, informing them that you have filed for divorce.

Your spouse has the right to dispute the divorce by completing an ‘answer form’ and state why they disagree with it. They must have a reasonable excuse why they feel that the divorce isn’t right. They are not able to dispute the divorce because they simply don’t want divorce, as this reason will not be accepted. If they decide to dispute the divorce, you may need to go to Court.

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Adultery in Divorce FAQs

Who Pays for a Divorce After Adultery?

Regardless of whether your partner committed adultery or not, this will have no effect on who pays the divorce fees. It will also not have any significant impact on the financial settlement either.

It will be between you and your spouse who wishes to pay for the divorce fees. If you’re applying solely, then you will be responsible for the costs.

Will Adultery Affect Childcare Arrangements?

Infidelity doesn’t impact the childcare arrangements during the breakdown of a relationship. The reality is that regardless of the reason for the relationship breaking down, this is not considered when it comes to the childcare arrangements.

A partner committing adultery doesn’t alter their parental responsibilities or their financial settlement. The Court will never penalise someone for being unfaithful, regardless of whether there’s ill feeling between the couple or not.

In fact, the Court will favour the child having contact with both parents, unless there’s a strong reason why the child should no longer see one of their parents.

Is it Considered Adultery if You’re Separated?

A common misconception with adultery is that if you’re separated, then it’s not adultery, but this isn’t the case. Sexual intercourse with someone other than your spouse is still adultery even if you’re separated.

If you enter a sexual relationship while you are still married, then it’s considered adultery in the eyes of the law. Despite this, adultery will have no effect when it comes to divorce proceedings, as providing a reason is no longer required.

Is Adultery a Crime?

No, adultery is not a crime in the UK. It hasn’t been recognised as a crime since the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857.

Choose Simpson Millar as Your Divorce Solicitors

We understand that divorce and separation is sensitive, so we will handle your case with the utmost care and compassion.

Whether you need initial advice, support around childcare arrangements, legal advice on financial settlements, or for us to assist you throughout the entire divorce process, we’re here to help in any way that you need us to.

Our aim is to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children. We will tailor our service completely to you and your unique situation. No two families are the same, so we will always speak with you first to get an insight into your family life so we can shape our service to fit your needs.

Simpson Millar has an excellent reputation for divorce law, and we are Law Society Accredited, as well as being members of Resolution – a national organisation that’s committed to non-confrontational divorce and separation.

We work on fixed fees or hourly rates, which we’ll discuss upfront with you during your assessment call. We’ll always be transparent about our costs, so you know exactly where you stand at all times.


Government Digital Service (2011). Get a divorce. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/divorce.

www.simpsonmillar.co.uk. (2022). Family Law Solicitors | Family Divorce Lawyers | Simpson Millar Solicitors. [online] Available at: /family-law-solicitors/

Lorraine Harvey

Partner, Family Law

Areas of Expertise:
Family Law

Lorraine is a Partner at Simpson Millar, specialising in Family Law for over 20 years.

She handles middle to high net value cases, including pension claims and complex trust, and also advises on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Lorraine has unrivalled knowledge of public sector pensions, in particular police pensions, having advised police officers on pension claims for two decades.

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