The publication of divorce records from the 19th and early 20th century (www.ancestry.co.uk) reminds us that historically fairly damning and often scandalous evidence about a spouse's behaviour had to be produced to justify a divorce.
While our modern divorce laws promote the concept of the 'no fault' divorce, the notion of fault has not been entirely eradicated from the law. If a spouse wants to raise divorce proceedings in the face of opposition from their spouse prior to having lived apart for two years, fault in the form of unreasonable behaviour or adultery will still have to be cited and proved to a court.
Often the most difficult conversation for a family lawyer faced with a spouse who is distraught after discovering their partner's infidelity is to advise the client that the conduct of the cheating partner generally has no bearing at all on the financial split which will follow.
The husband who insists his unfaithful wife will get nothing, or the wife who demands an adulterous husband is taken for everything, will be disappointed when told the law pays little heed to the reasons for the breakdown of the relationship.
There can be exceptional cases where conduct will be considered and arguments can be made to factor that in to the final financial settlement. A husband who has dissipated assets through sustained and reckless gambling or a wife whose years of excessive drinking have drained the family savings might find their spouse has a good case to seek unequal sharing of the remaining assets. But even these cases have to be clearly quantified and claims justified by careful production of evidence to show the clear financial impact of the conduct concerned. Loose arguments about a husband who spends too much time at the pub or a wife with a penchant for designer clothes will not wash.