What exactly is the definition of adultery?

Question: What is the real meaning of adultery when you’re married? Does it have to be a physical relationship or can someone commit “mental adultery”?


Answer: Many states have criminal statutes which make it a crime to commit “adultery” and many states have statutes which make “adultery” relevant in a divorce action.  The definition of adultery is unique to each state and may be found either in the statutes or the caselaw of your state.  I practice in Wisconsin and the definition of adultery in Wisconsin is sexual intercourse with a person other than the married person’s spouse.

You should contact an attorney licensed in Pennsylvania to discuss the meaning of adultery in Pennsylvania and the implications of your wife’s behavior.  Cordell & Cordell has many attorneys licensed and located in Pennsylvania who would be happy to help.


Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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