Do I have to name the person my spouse committed adultery with?
The short answer is no, you do not have name the person that your spouse has committed adultery with on your divorce petition, in fact doing so is quite rare, and could potentially lead to delays with your divorce, as the other party may not be willing to admit to an affair with your spouse and they will have every right to seek their own legal representation. Divorce proceedings based on adultery can proceed without naming the co-respondent, instead they will be referred to as “unnamed man/unnamed woman” on the Court paperwork.
If a petitioner does wish to name the co-respondent then it is advisable for the co-respondent to be sent a Form of Admission at the same time as the respondent – provided his/her address is known. This will then give an idea as to whether they will engage in the process. If the co-respondent does not return the form or makes it clear they will not co-operate, but the respondent is willing to admit to adultery if the co-respondent is not named, then it is worth agreeing not to name the co-respondent.
If the co-respondent is named then once the divorce petition has been issued the Court will send a sealed copy to the co-respondent together with an Acknowledgement of Service form. If the co-respondent fails to return the form, or the co-respondent is not willing to admit to the adultery, then the petition cannot proceed as it stands and will need to be amended to either remove the co-respondent’s name or to behaviour rather than adultery.
One other matter to consider on an adultery petition where the co-respondent is named is whether you want the co-respondent to contribute towards costs. Including a costs claim for the co-respondent may inflame the situation and may cause delays. Although difficult, it may be a time to put anger and bitterness aside and try to think on a more practical level, as your actions in relation to costs may have the result of causing yourself more pain, distress and expense – not the co-respondent.
One final thing to note is that Practice Direction of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 states to practitioners that a co-respondent should not be named. Therefore if your lawyer advises you against naming the co-respondent, it is not the case that they “don’t understand” or are “not listening” it is because they can see the possible pitfalls ahead!