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Adultery as a Ground for Divorce

Most people feel a sense of sadness when something comes to an end. Whether it was good or bad, there is still that feeling of loss and we’re sad to see it go. When it’s a marriage that is coming to an end, families are affected and that feeling of loss is magnified. When that end comes about because of adultery, the pain and sorrow can be unbearable for some, and in Maryland, proven adultery as a ground for divorce will affect the amount of alimony you pay/receive, and the amount of time you get to spend with your children post-divorce.

What Is Considered Adultery in Maryland?

Adultery, as defined by Maryland law, is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person other than that person’s husband or wife. Adultery does not include oral sex or sodomy. Adultery is one of multiple grounds for absolute divorce that can be used to dissolve a marriage in Maryland. Adulterers are not equal under the blanket of Maryland law, and adultery will impact custody and alimony, especially if the adultery was proven to cause harm to the children.

What is Condonation?

Condonation with regards to divorce under Maryland law is the act of condoning a ground for divorce. If adultery is condoned, it cannot be used as a ground for divorce. A spouse can unknowingly condone adultery if they continue to cohabitate with their spouse after learning of the adulterous act. If you filed for divorce and subsequently condoned the adultery, your grounds for divorce will be invalid. If your spouse has another affair (or commits another act of adultery), you will need to file a new divorce based on the ground of adultery.

How to Prove Adultery

Proving adultery can be tricky, and you may need to hire a private investigator to compile evidence for you. This is why hiring an experienced Maryland divorce attorney is essential – we have the team in place to collect evidence and create a convincing case, and we’ve been doing it for years! Sometimes, a spouse is open about their affair and no longer cares about the marriage – this makes proving the adultery less difficult, but a confession is not always enough to have your spouse in flagrante delicto, or “flagrant wrong”. You will still need a corroborative witness, such as a mutual friend or neighbor, who can attest to the confession and has no stake or matter in the case.

Most cases don’t involve a willing admission from the cheating spouse, and the adultery will have to be proven using circumstantial evidence collected by a private investigator over time. This can be expensive, but an experienced Maryland divorce attorney knows how to collect this evidence in the most efficient and cost-effective way. For circumstantial evidence to be used, disposition and opportunity must be proven:

  • Disposition – Public displays of affection caught on camera, such as hand holding, hugging and/or kissing between a spouse and a paramour could establish an adulterous disposition
  • Opportunity – An adulterous disposition is not enough to prove adultery (voluntary sexual intercourse), and opportunity will also need to be proven. Opportunity could be proven by presenting evidence of a spouse’s sleep-over at a paramour’s house, or their checking into a hotel room after a night at the bar.

Considering Divorce? Call Our Maryland Divorce Attorney!

Are you finding evidence of infidelity at home? Do you think your significant other could be committing adultery? Adultery is a terrible and hurtful act and Maryland law considers it grounds for divorce. Adultery does not always mean that a marriage is over, but it can, and if you feel it’s time to begin the process of filing for divorce, we are here to help. Call our Maryland divorce attorney today to schedule a free consultation.


The Burton Law Firm understands how divorce can affect you and your family’s life indefinitely. Having years of experience handling all types of family law cases throughout the state of Maryland, you can trust us to handle your case with care. Give us a call at (301) 420-5540 to speak with a family law lawyer in Maryland.


Contact our office as soon as possible so our team of Family Law attorneys can properly evaluate your case and protect your rights.