Filing Adultery Charges: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you have found yourself in a situation where your spouse has engaged in an extramarital affair, you may be contemplating legal action. 

Adultery is still illegal in 16 states. Those states are:

Illinois KansasMichiganMinnesota
MississippiNew YorkNorth CarolinaOklahoma
Rhode IslandSouth CarolinaVirginiaWisconsin
States Where Adultery Is Illegal

You can file adultery charges if you live in one of the states listed above. Filing adultery charges is a complex process that requires careful consideration before filing a criminal complaint. 

In this article, we will guide you on how to file adultery charges and whether filing criminal charges is a good idea. 

How to File Adultery Charges

Step One – Gathering Evidence

The first thing you must do before filing adultery charges is gather evidence. 

Gathering substantial evidence is vital to support your case. Adultery is a serious accusation; you must present convincing evidence to strengthen your claims. 

The type of evidence required will vary from state to state, but some commonly accepted forms of evidence include:

  • Communication Records: Gathering texts, emails, or social media interactions that indicate an extramarital affair can be compelling evidence. Ensure you keep records of any incriminating conversations or interactions.
  • Photographic or Video Evidence: Visual proof, such as photographs or videos, can be powerful evidence of an adulterous relationship. These may include images showing the adulterous parties together in compromising situations or engaging in intimate acts.
  • Eyewitness Testimonies: Testimonies from individuals who have witnessed the adulterous behavior firsthand can be valuable evidence. These witnesses can provide detailed accounts of the affair, adding credibility to your case.
  • Admissions or Confessions: Sometimes, the adulterous party may admit to the affair either verbally or in writing. Written correspondence, text messages, emails, or social media posts acknowledging the affair is strong evidence of adultery.
  • Travel Records: If the affair involves long-distance travel, travel records such as flight tickets, hotel reservations, or credit card statements can serve as evidence. These records can establish a pattern of travel consistent with the adulterous relationship.
  • Private Investigator Reports: Hiring a licensed private investigator to gather evidence can be an effective approach. These professionals have the expertise and resources to conduct discreet surveillance, document activities, and provide detailed reports that can be used as evidence in legal proceedings.
  • Phone or Internet Records: Phone records and internet browsing history can provide insights into communication between adulterous parties. 
  • Bank and Financial Statements: Unusual or suspicious financial transactions, such as payments for gifts, hotel stays, or other expenses related to the affair, can be indicative of adultery. Bank statements, credit card records, or financial statements can help establish a financial connection to the affair.
  • GPS or Location Data: In certain situations, GPS or location data can be used to establish the presence of the adulterous parties at specific locations and times. This evidence can be obtained from mobile devices, vehicle-tracking systems, or other location-tracking technologies.
  • Witness Testimonies: If you have individuals who have observed the adulterous behavior firsthand, their testimonies can provide additional support to your case. Ensure they are willing to testify or provide a written statement if required.

Step 2 – Filing the Adultery Charges With The Police

Once you have gathered sufficient evidence and sought legal advice, it’s time to initiate filing adultery charges. You do this by contacting your local police or sheriff’s department and filing a complaint. 

The police will review the complaint and investigate. The police follow procedures to determine if a crime has been committed and decide if the case should be presented to the prosecutor. 

The process typically involves the following steps:

1. Initial Investigation

The police conduct an initial investigation to gather evidence and information about the alleged crime. This typically involves interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence, analyzing crime scenes, and reviewing available surveillance footage or documents.

2. Assessing the Evidence

The police assess the evidence collected during the investigation to determine its strength and relevance to the alleged crime. They evaluate the credibility of witnesses, the motive for the complaint, the quality of physical evidence, and any other supporting documentation or materials.

3. Legal Elements

The police consider whether the evidence meets the necessary legal elements to establish the elements of a crime. They review the specific statutes and laws applicable to the alleged offense to determine if there is sufficient evidence to support a potential charge.

4. Gathering Additional Information

If the initial evidence is insufficient or requires further corroboration, the police may continue their investigation to gather additional information. This could involve conducting more interviews, seeking expert opinions, or collaborating with other specialized units within the police department.

5. Consulting with Prosecutors

In most adultery cases, the police consult with prosecutors during the investigation process. This allows prosecutors to guide legal elements, the strength of the evidence, and the likelihood of a successful prosecution. The input of prosecutors helps the police make informed decisions regarding the case’s viability.

Step 3 – The Prosecutor Will Decide Whether or Not to File Criminal Charges for Adultery

Based on the gathered evidence, legal elements, and consultation with police, the prosecutor will decide whether to recommend the case to the prosecutor. 

Factors such as the strength of the evidence, whether they believe the case should be handled in divorce court, the availability of resources, and the priorities of the prosecutor’s office are considered.

If the prosecutor decides to proceed with the case, they will file formal charges, called a criminal complaint. A warrant will be issued, and the person will be arrested for adultery. 

Is a Cheater Likely To Be Arrested For Committing Adultery?

Even if you live in one of the 16 states that still make it illegal to commit adultery, it is unlikely the person committing the infidelity will be arrested for the crime. In my experience, adultery laws are rarely enforced. 

What Are The Potential Consequences of Filing a Criminal Complaint For Adultery? 

Filing adultery charges can have significant consequences for all parties involved, including yourself, your spouse, and any children you may have. 

It’s crucial to evaluate the potential consequences before proceeding with legal action. Consider the emotional toll, financial implications, and the impact it may have on the future dynamics of your relationship. If you file criminal charges for adultery, your spouse will likely file for divorce.

The potential legal outcomes of filing adultery charges can include the following:

  • The filing of a divorce.
  • The division of property and debts.
  • Child custody battles. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Are there any alternatives to filing adultery charges?

Filing adultery charges is not the only option available to address infidelity in a relationship. Alternative approaches include couples counseling, mediation, or negotiating a separation or divorce settlement outside court. It’s crucial to consider the specific dynamics of your relationship and consult with professionals to determine the best course of action.

Q. Can you be charged with adultery in the military? 

Adultery can be considered a crime in the U.S. military. It is covered under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). 

The UCMJ is the military’s legal code, which applies to all branches of the United States military, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

For a service member to be charged with adultery, three elements must generally be proven:

  • That the accused wrongfully had sexual intercourse with a certain person;
  • That, at the time, the accused or the other person was married to someone else; and
  • That, under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

The military defines adultery more broadly than civilian courts. Adultery in the military is not just about marital infidelity but also about maintaining the discipline, trust, and professionalism of the armed forces. 

The requirement that the conduct be “prejudicial to good order and discipline” or “of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces” reflects this focus.

What To Read Next


Tim McDuffey is a practicing attorney in the State of Missouri. Tim is a licensed member of the Missouri Bar and Missouri Bar Association.

Recent Posts