Adultery Definition: When is there really adultery?

Adultery Definition: When is there really adultery?

Adultery Definition: When is there really adultery?

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When we speak of adultery, we think of an infidelity committed in a couple by one of the two partners, including a physical infidelity. The notion of deception is closely related for most people to carnal infidelity. What about the definition of adultery? How to define it exactly? Historically speaking? And from a legal point of view? Do you have to be married to use the term adultery? And for couples, what is the barrier between loyalty and infidelity? So many questions raised by this notion. When is there really adultery? Here is an article that tries to give you clear answers on this subject.

Adultery Definition: When is there really adultery?

Generic definition of adultery

By definition, adultery is infidelity that takes place between two people who have taken marriage vows. It is indeed “the fact that a spouse violates his oath of fidelity, of sharing, and of having physical relations with a person other than his spouse to whom he has affirmed this oath” .

Failure to comply with one of these marriage obligations constitutes  marital fault . Adultery can be defined as the  violation of the duty of loyalty .

Commonly, we also talk about infidelity .

Adultery therefore supposes an  extramarital relationship , in a society and a context in which exclusive fidelity is promoted between the two spouses.

Legal definition of adultery

A distinction with infidelity

The courts make a distinction between these two related concepts.

Unfaithfulness, legally speaking, is more like an insult to the other spouse and constitutes a breach of the dignity of the marriage . However, even in the absence of established adultery, the result is that one spouse may be content to invoke the outrageous extramarital affair of the other.

For example, more and more, we can also speak of virtual adultery . And this, when one of the spouses “cheats” on the other assiduously on the Internet.

Indeed, the Court of Cassation admitted, in a judgment of April 30, 2014, that adultery can be constituted even in the absence of a physical relationship. Thus, a person who exchanges intimate messages and photographs, how a violation of the duty of loyalty. (dating sites, social networks…).

However, adultery no longer constituting a “peremptory” cause of divorce, the court must find sufficient proof of serious and renewed facts. It is on this condition that the maintenance of common life is considered intolerable. And because of this, divorce can be pronounced on the grounds of adultery.

A little history

– The woman being guilty of the “crime” of adultery was punished by a prison sentence of 3 months to 2 years . Her husband only incurred a fine of 360 to 7,200 dollars for this fault, but only if his adultery had been committed in the marital home;

– Unlike excesses, abuse and insults which were optional causes of divorce, adultery of the wife, like that of the husband, was considered a peremptory cause. That is to say that adultery automatically resulted in divorce to the exclusive wrongs of its author.

It was therefore not until 1975 that in France adultery was no longer punished criminally but more than civilly .

Legal definition of adultery

The legal notion of adultery and its sanctions have therefore evolved according to customs and times.

Today, article 212 of the Civil Code pronounced at each marriage provides that ”  the spouses owe each other mutual respect, fidelity, help and assistance”.

However, the definition of these duties is broad enough to allow the courts to sanction a variety of misconduct. But these behaviors are only recognized as such by the court if they:

  • Have an outrageous character
  • Are severe or repeated
  • Make the maintenance of the marital bond intolerable

Indeed, article 242 of the Civil Code provides that:

“Divorce can be requested by one of the spouses when facts constituting a serious or renewed violation of the duties and obligations of marriage are attributable to his spouse and make the maintenance of common life intolerable”. 

Adultery: a fault justifying the divorce to the exclusive wrongs of its author

On the basis of the violation of the duty of fidelity, a spouse can therefore request two things. On the one hand, damages and , on the other hand, the divorce to the exclusive wrongs of his spouse.

For this, he must prove the adultery, thanks to irrefutable and legally recovered evidence:

  • A written document
  • Confessions
  • Testimonials
  • The report of a private investigator
  • Legally obtained text messages or emails

It is therefore not possible to record a conversation on a voicemail. Nor to obtain documents protected by a password or a code. E-mails are only admissible as proof if it is established that the spouse had left their mailbox open. Regarding sms, the evidence is inadmissible if the spouse’s phone was searched without his consent.

Adultery: a fault left to the sovereign appreciation of the judge

That said, the judge has a broad power of appreciation of the fault and takes into account the share of responsibility of the other spouse. Thus, the judge can rule out adultery when it is reciprocal or find “excusing circumstances” for it. Indeed, the courts consider that the spouse having found emotional comfort to compensate for the deficiencies of his spouse is not completely at fault.

Currently, therefore, adultery is considered in civil law as a marital fault, which the judge can rule out or excuse with regard to faults committed by the other spouse.

The Court of Cassation, in a judgment of December 17, 2015, affirmed the following principle:

“The evolution of mores like that of moral conceptions no longer allows us to consider that conjugal infidelity would be contrary to the common representation of morality in contemporary society”

 When is there really adultery in a relationship?

Adultery is therefore the official term to designate the marital fault of infidelity in the eyes of the law. As can be seen, this notion has evolved over the decades, particularly since the 1970s. Adultery still constitutes a breach of the oath of marriage and may, if irrefutable evidence is provided, constitute the main reason recognized for the dissolution of said marriage. wedding. Then, the court can pronounce the divorce with the exclusive wrongs of the unfaithful spouse.

However, more and more couples are living together, living as a couple and as a family without being married.

What about adultery in these many cases?

For them, adultery obviously cannot be recognized by law since no civil union has been registered . In the event of infidelity, it is therefore up to both partners to make the decision to give each other another chance or to separate.

Each couple has its own definition of fidelity and therefore of infidelity, from which begins the deception and the threshold of tolerance to be respected.

From the moment a union is free; it is up to the couple to give their own definition of adultery and of what is therefore accepted within their home.

 What is loyalty?

The word fidelity refers to the notions of trust and loyalty , two values ​​most of the time fundamental within a couple. It is a proof of ”  the constancy of the feelings  “. And in this, physical fidelity is an inescapable foundation for the vast majority of couples in Western societies. Very often, it is an  implied contract . Which explains why it is not necessarily respected …

Indeed, it remains a difficult concept to define because it is fluctuating and personal, according to the culture or the age of the partners in particular.

For example, a person who practices debauchery or polyamory will not perceive infidelity in the same way as a more “classic” person.

Definition and reasons for adultery

Physical infidelity and emotional infidelity

Often, the partner who commits adultery going so far as to make love with another person says that he acted out of impulse, by physical attraction, responding to an unfulfilled desire, due to a physical lack within his couple. .

For those who rather practice affective and emotional infidelity , more and more often virtual moreover, this responds to an emotional deficiency.

For everyone, it is either a need to please, to seduce, to satisfy an impulse or to be reassured, to be less alone, to feel loved.

In most cases, this therefore responds to a lack within his couple or in any case felt as such.

However, today it is easy to break up with your partner.

So why continue to cheat when we can just separate?

For comfort first of all. The fear of losing one’s material comfort, of going out of one’s comfort zone, often for children too, or out of cowardice, for fear of the gaze of others.

More and more also, the strong push of individualism is not foreign to the phenomenon. Individual development, including at the carnal level, is at the center of the concerns of many. The satisfaction of all desires must be immediate.

The couple is therefore faced with a new danger, a kind of social pressure of performance and consumption , since dissatisfaction on the part of one of the partners can put the couple in danger, tempted to look elsewhere for what they lack. apparently within his marriage.

When is there really adultery?

The different types of adultery

The fleeting relationship or one-night stand

It is a relationship without a future with little or no affective involvement. “Consumption” is reduced to its simplest expression: people know that they will never see each other again and any exchange other than physical is excluded.

The adventure, the dressing relationship  or the famous sex-friends

It is distinguished above all by its duration: there is a form of attachment that is created, facilitated by the repetition of meetings. The physical interest remains but the relationship is gradually transformed, hence the idea of ​​two friends who sleep together in a relationship “with affinities”. The daily routine is avoided insofar as the relationship is unstable, hidden, secret. This is what makes it the spice for many, but also the danger …

The love affair or double life

The romantic bond can evolve from a lasting physical bond to something more complete, when the romantic feeling was initially excluded or unconscious. It is the most complex adultery. The unfaithful partner must make a quick choice: dissolve his couple in order to form a new one or end the affair. Very often, the elements at his disposal are biased because his relationship is like a permanent honeymoon , since it is on the fringes of daily life and its obligations. Clearly, the feelings can be sincere, but the situation is artificial. The secret couple can only test their viability by becoming a real couple. While waiting to make a choice, the infidel sinks into a double life.

Why do you cheat on your partner?

Here are the main reasons given to explain the act of adultery:

  • Out of love or out of desire for another person
  • To live a different experience
  • To take revenge for the infidelity of his spouse
  • To spice up his intimate life
  • To take a break in your married life
  • To make your spouse jealous / jealous

When are we unfaithful?

Here are the signs of infidelity, from “most serious to least serious” according to most people.

  • Have an ongoing physical relationship with another partner
  • Have a one- time physical relationship without love for the person
  • Kiss another person on the mouth
  • Fall in love with another person but without taking action
  • Flirt
  • Have moments of complicity with another person
  • An ambiguous use of social networks
  • Chat virtually with another person
  • Do not say that we are in a relationship
  • Receive advances and not reject them

A definition that is both universal and personal

Each couple has their own definition and above all their perception of loyalty and infidelity. If the definition of adultery is in a way “universal”, each couple is free to interpret it in their own way according to their mode of operation and their conception of the couple. For this, good communication is of course essential from the start of the relationship to ensure that we are on the same wavelength, on this subject as for many others.

Indeed, it is not because we are not married that the oath of fidelity is not implicit and that adultery is not serious.

For a couple to be happy, both partners must share the same values ​​and the same ideas, with respect and reciprocity . An imposed or hidden infidelity cannot be regarded as accepted by the partner who undergoes it. To be free to have other relationships while being in a relationship, this way of considering love and desire must be shared by both partners.

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