Adultery and divorce advice from Wilson Browne SolicitorsPosted 7th November 2023
If David Beckham did have an affair, would it be relevant to divorce proceedings?
In the spotlight, the Beckham saga raises questions about alleged affairs. Since ‘no-fault’ divorce’s introduction, the landscape has transformed, eliminating the need for blame. Ed Rawlins from Wilson Browne Solicitors unravels the impact and broader implications of these changes on today’s divorcing couples.
In a four-part TV series, titled ‘Beckham’, ‘Posh’ addressed the speculation that David allegedly had an affair while he was playing for Real Madrid.
The questions is…Did he? Didn’t he? Is there any evidence, or is it all media speculation?
Before 6th April 2022 adultery was a fact that could be relied upon to issue divorce proceedings – if it was admitted or there was evidence that it had taken place.
However, since then ‘no fault’ divorce has been introduced. The traditional process for divorce entailed one party providing a specific reason for ending the marriage. This often involved alleging wrongdoing (including unreasonable behaviour, adultery, or desertion) by the other party.
No-fault divorces seek to remove this element of blame and instead allows one or both parties to file for divorce because they believe the marriage is beyond repair and broken down irretrievably, and it is no longer necessary for either spouse to apportion blame for the failure of the marriage. Instead, one or both spouses can make a “statement of irretrievable breakdown”.
No-fault divorce has its advantages, one of many being it’s usually cheaper than the previous system, as a result of there being less litigation. Some people argue there are disadvantages, such as weakening the institution of marriage.
Back to the Beckhams, and this scenario does not need to be any allegation of adultery or any other ‘fact’ to issue an application.
What about whether ‘adultery’ affects a financial settlement within divorce? It is very difficult to imagine a case where an extramarital affair would itself impact a financial outcome.
There is a factor summarised as conduct that would be ‘inequitable’ to disregard, but that is relevant in only the most exceptional of cases. Such behaviour has been defined as ‘gross and obvious’, for example an assault by one spouse upon another resulting in the victim being unable to work.
So, the reality is that speculation will continue about Becks, but if Posh ever wanted to issue divorce proceedings against him she could do so without having to prove or allege adultery. As to the financial settlement, they may have entered into a pre or post-nuptial agreement which could be the basis upon which those matters are resolved anyway.
If you are planning to marry and want to have advice on protecting your assets under a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, want advice about divorce or are concerned about the financial consequences of a relationship breakdown contact our Family Law Team on 0800 088 6004