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When a friend ruins a marriage: Apparent and real adultery

Is adultery committed when a husband only frequents a female friend? This question is not as trivial as it seems, as is shown in the case at hand brought to the attention of the Supreme Court judges.

The evidence submitted in the trial showed that Mr. XXX had assiduously frequented the house of Mrs. XXX, had accompanied her to work, had discussed with her the family’s problems and Mrs. XXX was present at the Christmas parties which were held in the matrimonial home on account of the fact that the husband had threatened not to take part if she didn’t do so.

Moreover, according to several witnesses, the fact that she frequented the husband led to the negative change in the husband’s attitude towards his wife.

The husband, on the other hand, claimed that the adultery was only apparent. Upon the wife requesting that he terminate this relationship, however, he first consented and then continued to see the woman secretly.

The judges held that this last circumstance was hard to reconcile with a generic relationship of friendship, for whose sake the husband has not hesitated to question the very survival of the family.

The Supreme Court, with its judgment no. 17195/12, rejected the appeal filed by the husband, opening the door to an assessment which is not only of a formal nature (e.g. the classic betrayal), but also of a substantial nature.

In other words, what appears to be decisive for the court holding adultery to have been committed, is a relationship that is able to overshadow and subordinate the family relationship to the adulterous relationship (regardless of whether there has been a physical betrayal).

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This post is also available in: Italian

Daniele Costa
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