New Hampshire updates fault-based divorce law

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2021 | Divorce |

Residents of Manchester and other nearby areas of New Hampshire may want to learn more about a new ruling by the New Hampshire Supreme Court. Formerly, adultery received consideration for fault-based divorce if it was intercourse between a married person and another person. This was interpreted to mean that they were of the opposite sex. However, the new ruling sided with a man whose ex-wife committed adultery with another woman.

New precedent set

With the state court accepting same sex marriages in the year 2009, it was not until this case that the court considered same-sex adultery. Adultery was previously seen as grounds for divorce between a man and a woman in a fault-based divorce.

There was a decision in 2003 known as the Blanchflower ruling that adultery could only be grounds for a fault divorce if it involved infidelity. This meant between a man and a woman.

New definition of “adultery”

The justices made the decision that adultery is now a consideration when a married person and someone who is not in the marriage decide to have voluntary sexual intercourse. This is regardless of the sex of either person.

The decision overturns a ruling made in January of 2019 in the lower court. The husband updated his petition seeking fault-based divorce. His wife had engaged in an intimate relationship with another woman. A lower court had dismissed his petition by citing the Blanchflower ruling.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has now ruled that fault-based divorce may be between two persons without consideration to their gender. Adultery cases will go forward whether between opposite sex or same-sex partners, so individuals who are divorcing because of infidelity may be impacted by this change in interpretation of the law.