#Law & Order
federal government

In many countries, cultures, and religions, adultery is treated as either a criminal offence or a sin. Adultery is not treated this way in Australia, even in the case of divorce.

Adultery is one of the worst things that can happen to a marriage/ Relationship and violates everything you’ve built with your partner in such a personal way. Many of us who have been a victim to an adulterous affair did not see it coming. We were blindsided, and – before we knew it – were involved emotionally, physically or both with a person other than our spouse. Infidelity can feel like a death: the death of trust, the death of affection, the death of all the work you’ve done in your marriage. The fatal blow to any marriage is an adulterous affair where one or both spouses think they finally found his or her soul mate. Once convinced that he or she married the wrong person or that God put someone knew in his or her life, the idea of divorce can take root and grow. Blinded by the deception of the affair, most people have no idea how they got there, and don’t know how to get out.

In many other countries and jurisdictions, adultery may be seen unfavourably in the eyes of the law. These laws fall under many categories, such as misdemeanours or even criminal offences as in many (but not all) states in the United States. The justification behind such laws has a lot to do with social norms and historical traditions. There’s no denying that even where adultery is not considered a crime, it’s not exactly good behaviour in a well-functioning society. Adultery leads to the erosion of trust, broken homes, and ultimately, divorce.

Adultery is without a doubt a major reason why so many marriages fall apart in Australia (and elsewhere), so it would make sense that it’s a clear reason for a divorce. We’ll learn later on why this does matter on one hand, but when seeking divorce it is not a necessary factor at all.

Since 1994, Australia has enacted a federal law pertaining to sexual conduct between consenting adults. In brief, the law says that any two individuals aged 18 or over may engage in consensual sexual behaviour. What’s important to note is that this law does not discriminate two consenting adults by their marital status, meaning that either, both, or none of the people involved need to demonstrate their marital status. In other words, adultery in Australia carries no legal consequences such as misdemeanours, felonies, or criminal offences as in some states in the United States, for example.

In Australia, adultery is not seen as a cause for divorce according to the 1975 Family Law Act. Before 1975, one of the spouses required a reasonable cause for divorce, such as drunkenness, substance abuse, or insanity. Since 1975, no cause (or fault) is required for a divorce. This makes Australia a country in which ‘no-fault’ divorce is the status quo. In short, all that’s required for a divorce in Australia is that one spouse claim that the marriage is irrevocably ended through 12 months of separation from the other spouse.

Now to split hairs, although adultery is not a fault for divorce (no fault is required), it’s certainly something that causes hardship and sometimes hostility between the spouses. When the Family Court oversees your divorce case, factors such as adultery may create tension and lead to arguing over child custody or property settlement. Where the behaviour of one spouse is such that they cannot demonstrably support the child(ren) safely, there may be repercussions in terms of custody. Parental responsibility is not only the right thing to do, but it’s a legal duty in Australia. Failure to provide for the wellbeing and welfare of the child(ren) can lead to unfavourable decisions for you (or your spouse) in Family Court.

1. Adultery is not a victimless crime. Many people who have an affair, convince themselves that should their illicit relationship be discovered, that the only other injured person will be their partner.

Since a person who commits adultery often blames their partner for their cheating, the ‘discovery of the affair,’ in the mind of the adulterer, has no ‘innocent victims.’ The cheater ‘claims’ that his or her partner is also at fault because he/he wouldn’t have sex, communicate nicely, spent too little or too much money, was irresponsibly, or controlling, etc. The truth is otherwise; only one person is to blame for the cheating, and that is the partner who had the affair. Everyone else in the immediate family, as well as the extended family members and friends, are all undeservedly hurt. Infidelity hurts each member of the family!

Adultery is a marriage problem that affects the children. When parents are in crisis, their children are also in a crisis. When a house burns down, the children along with the adults become homeless. The same is true when infidelity plagues a family. Children feel and experience turmoil, fear, uncertainty, and anger. The tears, the withdrawal, the accusations, the distraction, the fighting of the adults affects everyone in the family and in particular children who by nature are very sensitive and dependent upon their parents for emotional and physical stability and safety.

Ways to reduce this pain and risk: When adultery hits a family, since the children are also injured, they need to be spoken to in an age-appropriate way. Pretending that nothing has happened or nothing has changed hurts them even more since they then feel guilty thinking that something terrible is happening, but they are not able to talk about it. As well, not being able to talk about the affair increases their fear about the future and makes processing the event far more difficult. Dealing with infidelity necessitates talking with your children.

When adultery leads to divorce, everyone takes a hit. (Even considering the option of divorce is enough to cause emotional pain that is not forgotten). Think of a family like passengers on a boat. If the boat sinks, everyone drowns. Using this analogy of a sinking boat and taking it one step further, adults typically know how to swim and have more stamina than children who may or may not know how to swim, but lack strength. The same is true with a divorce. Most adults are able to handle the breakup of their marriage or committed relationship and move forward even if it is difficult and painful. Research shows that often this is not the case for children. Children from divorced homes are at increased risk for academic, social, and emotional injury or failure.

Emotional wounds that do not heal effect everyone. After the affair has ended and the ‘shock’ has died down, most couples do not do the necessary work to heal and recover fully. These couples remain in a state of polarization, mistrust, and guilt. The quality of their relationship never fully recovers. It is like painting over rust. The paint peels easily and never looks right. For a couple who never fully heals from the injuries caused by adultery, there are many triggers that bring back painful memories, emotional volatility, and extreme reactions. This emotional tension that affects couples who have not healed from adultery impacts everyone around them; especially their sensitive children. The injured party have lingering bitterness and needs strategies to deal with the feelings of bitterness in order to survive the infidelity.

The ‘adultery story’ is always remembered and everyone that knows it is changed forever. Even though the couple may choose to stay together, everyone who knows these two individuals will always treat them differently. Like someone who has committed murder, he or she is always known as ‘a murderer.’ The same goes for the adulterer and his or her partner; they are forever stigmatized by close family and friends. When the news of adultery is first breaking, it is very important to decide who should know and who should not know. The choice is yours. Who you tell can evolve into either a positive or negative event as you move forward as a couple.

Many Marriages, relationships and homes are broken due to Adultery. Adultery is Illegal in some states but the law is dormant. Why? If we go by the 10 commandments, it is against those Laws.

Adultry is illegal in the military. What about the sacred relationships people commit?

Why isnt it at least a breech of contract? Why are the children effected and nothing is done about it or to warn or prevent it?

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The Make adultery illegal in Australia petition to federal government was written by Cliffe Bradley and is in the category Law & Order at GoPetition.