Voluntary sexual relations between a married person and another person who is not their married spouse. A legal ground for divorce in most countries.
>From ad and alter, another person; a criminal conversation, between a man married to another woman, and a woman married to another man, or a married and unmarriod person. The married person is guilty of adultery, the unmarried of fornication.
The elements of this crime are, 1st, that there shall be an unlawful carnal connexion; 2dly, that the guilty party shall at the time be married; 3dly, that he or she shall willingly commit the offence; for a woman who has been ravished against her will is not guilty of adultery.
The punishment of adultery, in the United States, generally, is fine and imprisonment.
In England it is left to the feeble hands of the ecclesiastical courts to punish this offence.
Adultery in one of the married persons is good cause for obtaining a divorce by the innocent partner.
In the old records this word does not signify the offence of adultery, but the fine imposed for its commission.