Happy Wednesday!

Historically, marital infidelity has been considered to be a serious offense by many cultures. In some countries, it is a crime.

According to a recent USA Today article, about two dozen states still have criminal adultery provisions in their state laws. The article goes on to say… “While prosecutions remain rare, they do occur. And beyond the criminal realm, these provisions can be cited in divorce proceedings, custody disputes, employment cases and even to bar people from serving on juries.”

Though most individuals might not be prosecuted, these laws could be cited in any divorce proceedings to show not just infidelity but also possible criminality in the cheater’s lifestyle.

I’m sure that this is one of those issues that could be debated indefinitely based on various religious, moral, legal and political view points.

So what do you think?

Should infidelity be considered a crime?  Why or why not?

Please respond to each other in the comments.

Take care!

Linda & Doug

See also  Our Emotional Affair Recovery One Year Later

    21 replies to "Discussion: Should Infidelity be a Crime?"

    • Saddenned

      Should infidelity be considered a crime? Why or why not?

      Yes, I do believe it should be a crime. Here is why. A lot of murders happen in this world due to infidelity. I think if individuals faced legal ramifications for cheating then they would less likely do it. Though it would still happen, but I honestly believe it would be less. The pain endured from this is like dealing with death.

    • Lynne

      I won’t speak for the rest of the country, but it IS a crime in my house……and I’m still interrogating the witness! 🙂

      • Tom

        LOL!!! You can break that witness 😀 Start by flaying them. Then you can give them a bath of razor blades and vinegar 😀 They will break, I guarantee you, if they had any character at all, they would have never cheated in the first place.

        C’mon…we can have fun at their expense, right?…that is what they do to us after all.

    • Healing Mark

      So what definition of “infidelity” do we put on the books? To convict someone of a crime of “infidelity” you need to identify the elements of the crime, which elements are best ones that can be proven objectively rather than subjectively. Without going into too much detail, let’s assume that our lawmakers choose to make intercourse an element, leaving adulterers the option of attempting to have intercourse in a manner designed to leave no objective evidence of this occurring, or just having all other types of sexual relations other than the legally defined intercourse. Would this make it any easier on a betrayed partner? And, imagine what it would be like to have really not committed this new crime of adultery but to instead be faced with defending yourself against charges where the evidence is other people’s word against your word, and the other people just happen to be people that are alligned for your spouse for whatever reasons and against you for whatever reasons.

      Another frightening thought. What about marriages where the parties agree that one-off sex with a person not previously known to either partner is acceptable and not a violation of those marital “contracts”? Oops, now that becomes a crime if it is illegal for a married person to have intercourse with a person other than their partner. How frustrating would it be for you to be unable to give your partner the freedom to get sex outside of the marriage when that is what you would, for whatever reason, want to do?

      While still distasteful, there might be something to be said by re-introducing the presence of “indidelity” as a relevant fact in divorce proceedings. “No fault” divorces allow spouses to cheat on the other spouses without guaranteed repercussions in subsequent divorce proceedings. That said, attempting to criminalize “infidelity” would be a very, very bad idea, no matter how strongly you feel that affairs are wrong.

      • Paula

        Well done Healing Mark, all of the people here with EA trouble would be “ripped off” and how well does criminalization work as a deterent to many other crimes, eg, marijuana use, theft, etc…. Imagine having to assemble the “evidence” and sit through depositions, and court cases, reliving it all in the public arena. Most people know it’s “not cool” – criminalizing will not be a greater deterent than devastatio of love, so, waste of time and money. On an idealistic level, it would be cool if it could be used in divorce to award “damages” in the form of a better monetary settlement to the wounded party, as per Notoverit’s idea

    • RecoveringMommy

      However awful infidelity is, I do not think I would consider it a crime under earthly laws. My definition of crime would be an act that poses a threat to society…a murderer, rapist, etc. I do, however, think that if you brought a law suit against the CS and/or the OP you would have grounds for maybe “emotional distress.” Why not? People sue McDonald’s when they spill their coffee in their own lap. The pain a BS feels is far worse than a minor burn. And I’ve actually thought about doing it myself. But then I stop myself because I’m not one to stoop to that level.

      For me as a Christian, infidelity is a crime in that sense. One of the 10 commandments given to us by God is “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” If we repent and ask for forgiveness, Jesus is true to his word and does forgive us. However, the Bible also says that one day everyone will stand be God Almighty and be judged. To me, that is a far worse than any earthly punishment.

    • DJ

      I have not thought this all out, but I believe it should be against the law in some form because it definitely needs to be part of the argument in divorce proceedings.

      A crime is something you do that infringes on the rights of others. There is little else in this world that inflicts such suffering on its victims and infringes on the rights of a spouse like infidelity. I was raped when I was 16 and I went through some tough times in my recovery from that. In fact, I still suffer from a few triggers sometimes. But -using that McDonald’s example – that was a minor burn compared to this. Dr. Harley talks about how infidelity is worse than losing a child or sexual assault. He is absolutely right.

      In regards to the argument that if both spouses are accepting of going outside the marriage, well then, they simply do not have to file charges. The crime does not need to be made a felony. Even if you commit a crime against me, if I do not file charges, you usually do not pay for the crime.

    • Notoverit

      I don’t think that infidelity should be a crime – it would destroy too much. In the past, crimes of moral turpitude would include adultery (in the Biblical sense) so an EA would not have qualified. I do think that in divorce proceedings adultery or an emotional affair should be put forth as an element in the recovery of marital property, i.e. alimony. A lot of states (unlike our ninth circuit friends in liberal California) do allow testimony regarding adultery (not EAs because they do not fit the definition- I think EAs should be included since it is a growing problem) to determine alimony and the division of property. So in that sense, some states do punish monetarily the CS.

      Putting a Scarlet A on the person who cheats may satisfy revenge but it would destroy the family of that person. If the marriage is unsalvageable then make it a monetary hit – make the cheating spouse pay through the nose in alimony and loss of marital property (the house, savings, retirement etc.). I just think that serving time for making it a crime would be a lose/lose situation.

    • Kristine

      It’s emotional abuse that’s for sure.

    • mamak

      No, I don’t think it should. I am trying to imagine what might have happened to my marriage if my husband had to serve time for his behavior. We would have lost that time together to try and repair what had been broken. His EA is something I don’t want my everyone, including my children to know about, if he had legal ramifications for his choices, it would become public knowledge which would make everything that much harder on our family to get through.

      I also agree with others that it would be difficult to present evidence, and a lot of evidence that we as the betrayed partners may have might not hold up in court (like emails we found in our spouses inboxes). How awful would it be to know that your spouse had cheated, go through the court process and have them ‘win.’ I also think that many unfaithful partners would be less likely to admit to what they did if they knew they could be prosecuted. I do feel that there should be some standard regarding infidelity in divorce proceedings that benefit the betrayed partner.

    • CynthiaHW

      In the state that I live in, I have the option of suing the OP for alienation of affection whether or not my spouse and I were to split up. And, I’m keeping that in mind if things don’t change soon.

      • Healing Mark

        Interesting. A quick search indicates that there are just 7 states that continue to recognize this cause of action. I would kind of like to see something like this in my state, but won’t hold my breath as I expect the lawmakers in my state to be reluctant to pass a law that could come back to bite many of them in the…

    • RecoveringMommy

      CynthiaHW, would you mind sharing what state you live in? I’m curious.

    • CynthiaHW


    • RecoveringMommy

      Really? Me too. Very intriguing!

    • Tom

      There is no crime more cruel, dishonest, vicious, immoral, or inhuman than adultery.

      For one to commit adultery, they in the process must break every moral standard that mankind has ever recognized. An adulterer has no compassion, honesty, loyalty, morality of any sort. It is done unnecessarily, selfishly, maliciously. It is done intentionally with forethought. These animals, yes they are animals and not really human, should be dealt with in the most extremely violent and disgustingly horrifying manner imaginable my man.

      They are not human because to commit adultery, this thing, being, animal, or whatever, cannot possess any trait that we would ascribe to what it means to be human. There is no evidence of a “soul”, they obey or exhibit no evidence of concepts of “conscience”, “morality”, “love”, “honor”, “loyalty”, “honesty”, “compassion”, or any concept that makes humans humans.

      Bring back stoning for these vicious soulless animals! There is no place for such creatures, and their destructive evil tendencies and traits, in our human gene pool. At least have it so that we can carve adulterer into their flesh so that no one will ever be fooled into believing that they are human again.

      • Holding On

        Wow, Tom! Maybe this was a good response for me to read. I haven’t felt the need to “fight” for my husband. This is probably beneficial for me!

        There is also another cheater that posts on here regularly, Alone, and I will stand up for her as well. And probably a lot of the other spouses on here, too. They have shown remorse and are doing everything to repair damage from their choices. Doug, too! Can’t forget him! 🙂

        No doubt that affairs bring about MUCH pain, sorrow, destruction, anger, etc.

        But that cheaters are not human and should be punishable by death? Do I want my husband to be killed for his actions against me? NO! Or a word carved in his flesh? NO! Dealt with in the most violent and horrifying manner? NO!

        It IS horrible when a married (or single) person does not respect marriage boundaries and does things against the marriage. It is hurtful, selfish, uncaring, and unloving.

        My husband says the things he did went against all that he valued and cared about EVEN DURING the EA. He valued his marriage, me, our children. He loved me during the EA. However, his actions were contrary to his feelings. He completely disregarded his morals and what he knew to be right and chose to do the wrong thing. He chose to do it thinking of himself…not of his wife, marriage, family, etc. It was a selfish, sinful choice, but he expected it to be a private, secret sin for himself only. Wrong choice, bad choice, stupid choice, harmful choice.

        Unfortunately, I found out, it has brought all those things he didn’t think would happen into play. Pain, anger, distrust, sorrow, depression, guilt, shame, and SO MUCH more.

        I’m not sure if you are just in so much pain and hurt that these words are coming out, or maybe playing a devil’s advocate type of move? Either way, it was helpful for me to be on my husband’s side and play lawyer to defend him. That he is a good guy who did a really bad thing. He has done many wonderful and loving things before the EA and he stopped contact completely and has been doing wonderful things since the EA.

        He is HUMAN and made a horrible choice. One I hope is never made again. Yes, affairs hurt. I wish everyone married with a commitment to always be faithful in every sense of the word. I also wish there wasn’t destructive addictions. That people valued life. That the world was filled with a lot more caring, loving, people. But this is THE WORLD with agency and the consequences that come with it, unfortunately.

        Yay, I think this response might put me in a little better mindset for the day, so thanks, Tom!

        • Tom

          No problem. Glad that I was able to help. 😀

          I wasn’t trying to imply that the State should have the power to serve Justice against adulters. I don’t like the State having the power to do nearly anything. LOL

          And it is beautiful, and really nice to hear, that you can forgive your husband and that he is willing to be human. There is nothing wrong with that, if fact, you two are both acting like good human beings. I wish you both the best of luck and much happiness.

          If the victim of the crime of adultery wishes to forgive, then obviously there is no need for punishment. If the criminal is sorry and is willing to uphold his/her vows and repent, there again is really no need for punishment.

          I was talking about a victim having the right to serve Justice to an animal unwilling to live up to their vows or take responsibility for their evil is all.

    • Tom

      That adultery is not punishable by death just shows that we are not really a “society” at all, but rather a disgusting cesspool of scumbags who do whatever, whenever, for any reason or no reason, as long as it is “legal” or we “can get away with it”. 😀

    • Bette

      Tom, I only want to say, I agree with your post entirely!

    • Holdingon

      What if you get HIV, should it be criminal then?

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