adultery   (<<schwa>>-d<<schwa>>l-t<<schwa>>-ree),   n.   Voluntary   sexual   intercourse

between  a  married  person  and  someone  other  than  the  person’s  spouse.  •  In  many  jurisdictions,

adultery  is  a  crime,  but  it  is  rarely  prosecuted.  In  states  that  still  permit  fault  divorce,  proof  of

adultery is a ground on which a divorce may be granted. A court may also use proof of adultery as

a  reason  to reduce  the  offending  spouse’s  marital-property  award  in  a  property division.  Judges

traditionally  viewed adultery as a reason for  denying the offending spouse  primary custody  of a

child in a child-custody dispute. But today, only the deleterious effect of immoral behavior on the

child  is  typically  considered  relevant.  —  Formerly  also  termed  spouse-breach;  avowtry.  Cf.

FORNICATION;  INFIDELITY. [Cases:  Adultery    1.C.J.S. Adultery §§ 2–8.] — adulterous,adj.

— adulterer, adulteress,n.

“Returning  to  the  question  of  adultery,  evidently  this  word  cannot  be  interpreted  today  in

precisely the meaning it bore for the Old Testament patriarchs. On Old Testament principles one

may marry several wives, even two sisters; and a married man may and should beget children for

his dead brother. When Sarah found herself childless, she advised her husband Abraham to go in

unto  her  maid,  so  that  she  might  obtain  children  by  the  maid.  Such  acts,  though  evidently  not

adulterous within the original meaning of the Decalogue, would be regarded as adulterous by the

laws and customs of Western society at the present day.” Glanville Williams, The Sanctity of Life

and the Criminal Law 134 (1957).

“If a statute provided for the punishment of adultery without definition of the term, this gave

rise to a difficulty as to the meaning of the word. In England, (1) the common-law meaning of the

word was sex with another’s wife, but this was not a common-law offense; (2) as the name of an

offense  it  referred  to  sex  by  a  married  person  with  one  other  than  the  spouse,  but  that  was

recognized only in the ecclesiastical court.” Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law

455 (3d ed. 1982).

“In some states, sexual intercourse between two married persons, who are not married to each

other, constitutes adultery on the part of both; sexual intercourse between a married person and an

unmarried person likewise constitutes adultery on the part of both. In other states, adultery can be

committed only by a married person. Thus, sexual intercourse between two married persons, who

are not married to each other, constitutes adultery on the part of both; but if only one party to the

sexual intercourse is married, the intercourse constitutes adultery on the part of the married person

and fornication on the part of the unmarried person. In other states, sexual intercourse constitutes

adultery only where the woman is the married party. Thus, sexual intercourse between a married

woman and a married man other than her spouse or sexual intercourse between a married woman

and  an  unmarried  man  constitutes  adultery  on  the  part  of  both;  but  if  the  woman  is  unmarried,

neither  party  is  guilty  of  adultery  even  if  the  man  is  married.”  2  Charles  E.  Torcia,  Wharton’s

Criminal Law § 211, at 531 (15th ed. 1994).

double  adultery.Adultery  between  persons  who  are  both  married  to  other  persons.  [Cases:

Adultery    1. C.J.S. Adultery §§ 2–8.]

incestuous  adultery.Adultery  between  relatives;  adultery  committed  by  persons  who  are

closely related. [Cases: Adultery    1; Incest    3. C.J.S. Adultery §§ 2–8; Incest§ 3.]

open and  notorious adultery.Archaic. Adultery in which  the  parties reside together publicly,

as if married, and the community is generally aware of the living arrangement and the fact that the

couple is not married. [Cases: Marriage    53. C.J.S. Marriage § 45.]

single  adultery.Adultery  in  which  only  one  of  the  persons is  married.  [Cases:  Adultery    1.

C.J.S. Adultery §§ 2–8.] [Blacks Law 8th]