Adultery in Australia: mean, legal, a crime, impact on divorce, property settlement, alimony, child custody. According to data revealed by the extramarital dating platform Ashley Madison, the cases of adultery in Australia are at their peak even during the pandemic.
In addition, Australia ranked among the top five countries for infidelity. Despite the number of cases, are there any legal consequences of adultery under Australian law?
Is adultery legal or a crime in Australia? Is there any benefit in getting divorced from adultery?
If you have been the victim of your partner’s adultery or committed adultery, similar questions may be bothering you at such times.
Do not worry; keep reading to find answers to all your worries.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the meaning of adultery in Australia and the legal consequences a person can face because of adultery under civil and criminal laws.
What does adultery mean in Australia?
Adultery or extramarital affairs are the most commonly cited reasons why many marriages end today. Adultery is a legal term that denotes extramarital affairs or infidelity.
In a broad sense, adultery means voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person with another person not being their legally wedded partner. Under Australian law, a similar definition of adultery gets considered in court language.
Under Australian laws, adultery means any sexual intercourse between consent adults in which either party is legally married to another person.
Is adultery legal in Australia?
Do you know how many cases of extramarital affairs or cheating are common in Australia?
Statistically speaking, Sexual Health Australia estimated data revealed that around 60% of men and 45% of women are willing to report that an affair has occurred sometime in their marriage and about 70% of marriages experience an affair.
Despite the data being huge, you will be shocked to find that adultery in Australia is not an illegal act. Australia does not prohibit or criminalize adultery throughout its territory. Even the adulterer is escaped from any legal consequences under family law due to its no-fault divorce policy.
Under Australian federal law passed in 1994, sexual behavior between consented adults gets considered a private affair throughout the state, regardless of marital status.
Thus, although the number of adultery cases in the state is at its peak, it is not considered illegal under Australian federal laws.
Is adultery a crime in Australia?
Adultery or extramarital affairs represent a serious problem, not only for the individual but also for society at large.
Since marriage is a bond that binds two people together forever, adultery is a termite that erodes such relationships deeply and invites dire consequences.
In many states like Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, New York, and Pakistan, adultery is considered a crime and a prohibitory act.
The punishment for such crimes in states that criminalize adultery ranges from a fine to capital punishment.
However, if you leave Australia and commit adultery, breathe a sigh of relief. Because Australia is among many countries that do not consider adultery a crime.
Adultery in Australia does not invite; any legal consequences such as misdemeanors, felonies, or criminal charges.
According to a federal law passed in Australia in 1994, sexual behavior between agreeable adults of 18 years or older is their private matter throughout the state, irrespective of their marital status.
It means cheating or adultery is considered a private matter between couples, and the state does not interfere in their business.
Thus, any person committing and engaging in an adulterous act in Australia does not suffer any legal consequences, even under the state’s civil laws. Besides, the adulterer cannot get sued or jailed for their evil deeds.
Does adultery have any impact on divorce in Australia?
The Australian divorce laws underwent a drastic change after 1975 when the Family Law Act updated and refreshed the legal framework and adopted its ‘no-fault divorce’ policy.
A no-fault divorce means the parties to the marriage need not prove the reason or fault of the party responsible for the breakdown of their relationship. They do not need to establish the spousal action, which ultimately leads to the situation of divorce.
Thus, under Australian law, the only thing needed to end your relationship with your spouse is to prove that:
- A legal marriage exists between you and your partner.
- That you have completed your 12-month separation period with your partner.
Besides, if you have children out of the marriage, you must fight the custody case and put your points on the table.
Before 1975, the only way to get a divorce in Australia was to establish that one of the party’s actions had led to the marriage breakdown. The legal grounds to seek divorce in the state were: adultery, drunkenness, lack of affection, irretrievable differences, mental illness impotent, etc.
Out of these reasons, adultery is one of the top four cited reasons for most divorces in Australia.
In 1975, when Australia introduced Family Law, it completely removed adultery as a ground for divorce from its law books. This act abolished adultery as a ground to seek divorce in the state and established the principle of no-fault divorce in state law. It has also ceased any Alienation of affection actions which means no one can take any action for alienation of affection anymore.
Under Australian law, you cannot “sue” your spouse for breaking up a marriage or breaking off a relationship or engagement.
The reason behind adopting a no-fault divorce policy is to eliminate false claims and other underhanded techniques which parties use to “win” and receive a larger property settlement.
Thus, these lines are enough to understand that Australia is a no-fault state like many other countries and does not consider adultery; as a legal ground to seek divorce.
Besides, many states having a no-fault divorce policy allow spouses to get the benefit of their partner’s adulterous act when deciding crucial matters concerning divorce, such as:
- property distribution,
- spousal support, and
- child custody.
However, that is not the case under Australian family law.
Emotionally distressing and heartbreaking conduct of your partner during or at the end of a relationship, such as adultery, will have no impact on your divorce case. It also has no effect on any of the listed matters.
Let’s explore the impact of adultery on matters associated with divorce and find whether your partner’s adulterous behavior can be beneficial to you:
Effect of adultery on Property settlement
Unlike other states, in Australia, property settlement and distribution matters emerging from the breakdown of marriage are dealt with separately from the divorce.
It has no impact on your property settlement case; thus, the court will not entertain your divorce case on the basis of your partner’s adulterous behavior and grant you a big share.
The court will not give any favorable outcome to one party over another due to their adulterous act.
However, if your partner’s adultery resulted in a wastage of marital property, the court may grant you a large portion to compensate for your loss. For example, if your partner spent money during their infidelity on their lovers’ luxury trips, buying expensive gifts, booking hotels, etc. You may get a larger share in the property settlement.
Effect of adultery on Spousal support or alimony
If either party cannot maintain itself financially, the other party becomes liable to provide spousal support to that party.
Like property settlement, your partner’s adulterous behavior does not have any consequence in alimony cases. The court will not grant a maintenance order or give you higher spousal support due to the adulterous act of your partner.
Thus, your partner’s adultery does not impact your maintenance or alimony case under Australian laws. The court only considers certain factors like current income, financial resources, and the fair standard of living when deciding maintenance matters.
Effect of adultery on Child custody
Just like the above-mentioned issues, Child custody cases also don’t have any negative impact due to a person’s adulterous demeanor.
When deciding issues related to child custody, the welfare and best of the child come first. The court will consider several factors and parental fitness before granting child custody to either party.
A child’s welfare is the top priority obliges courts to consider two things:
- Maintain a good and healthy relationship with both parents as much as possible.
- Protect children from any type of abuse, be it physical or mental, and give them a healthy environment for their growth.
Besides, your partner’s adulterous act may give you a favorable outcome if your partner’s adultery is such that it hurts your child.
Wrapping up:Adultery in Australia
Adultery is one of the most heartbreaking times in every person’s life. While in many cases, the adulterous behavior of a party does not invite any dire consequences, it may give you a big hand in case of property settlement in certain circumstances. Thus, consulting a legal advisor to obtain a divorce and settle other issues is the best you can do.
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