Cheating spouse? Resist naming and shaming

Divorce|September 8th 2014

Divorce is a notoriously messy process. Whenever a marriage breaks down, emotions are going to be running high. This is especially true when there has been adultery.

Under English law, adultery is one of the five ways you can demonstrate that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. As I have mentioned before, adultery has a very specific legal definition, which can make applying for divorce on those grounds complicated.

Whether your spouse’s infidelity counts as adultery or not, it can still be categorised as ‘unreasonable behaviour’, which is a much better route to go down when seeking the end of your marriage.

Once you are in court, there can be a serious temptation to name the person your spouse cheated with. It is understandable. You hold that person directly responsible for the breakdown of your marriage, so showing them up publicly may feel like karmic retribution.

But is naming them a good idea? The short answer is no.

When dealing with the divorce process, the whole idea is to keep things calm and simple. The more calm and simple the process is, the quicker a decision can be reached.

Introducing the name of a third party into the proceedings unnecessarily complicates matters. When things become more complicated, decisions take longer and the cost to you increases.

Additionally, the court frowns on people doing it. So you are not helping your own case at all by naming the third party. It is not worth the time, the money, or the effort to drag another name into your divorce proceedings.

My advice is simple: don’t even go there.

If you have any further questions about going through a divorce there are many avenues you can explore. You could pick up a copy of my book Divorce & Splitting Up: Advice from a top divorce lawyer. You could also leave a question on the blog and we shall do our best to answer you.

The founder of Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers. She retired from Stowe Family Law in 2017.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Marilyn, when did it stop being compulsory to name the co-respondent?

  2. Andrew says:

    Sometime since 1981 when I issued a petition alleging adultery by husband with “a woman now deceased” which meant you did not have to name her.

    I am so ancient that I remember discretion statements!

  3. Patricia says:

    Hi Marilyn, Thank you for the opportunity to ask a question. To sue on the grounds of adultery and to be granted, Would you have to provide for example video, photo evidence?

    Is it as a result of lack of evidence that one will be advised to state unreasonable behavior as a reason instead of adultery?



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