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Adultery refers to sexual relations which are not officially legitimized; for example it does not refer to having sexual intercourse with multiple partners in the case of polygamy (when a man is married to more than one wife at a time, called polygyny; or when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, called polyandry).In the traditional English common law, adultery was a felony.Another tort, alienation of affection, arises when one spouse deserts the other for a third person.A marriage in which both spouses agree ahead of time to accept sexual relations by either partner with others is sometimes referred to as an open marriage or the swinging lifestyle.It is a non-cognizable, non-bailable criminal offence.A police officer cannot arrest a person without a warrant in a case of adultery as adultery is a non-cognizable offence.
Some adultery laws differentiate based on the sex of the participants, and as a result such laws are often seen as discriminatory, and in some jurisdictions they have been struck down by courts, usually on the basis that they discriminated against women.
Adultery is not a ground for divorce in jurisdictions which have adopted a no-fault divorce model.
In some societies and among certain religious adherents, adultery may affect the social status of those involved, and may result in social ostracism.
Criminal conversation was usually referred to by lawyers as crim.
con., and was abolished in England in 1857, and the Republic of Ireland in 1976.