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Is adultery illegal?

Despite the turning tide of public opinion toward greater freedoms for consenting adults, some states, including Kansas, still maintain laws that restrict certain behavior that are generally recognized as no one else's business. While it may be objectionable on ethical grounds, adultery is generally understood to be a civil issue that should be resolved between the parties it affects. If you think it is strange that engaging in adultery could have legal consequences beyond providing grounds for divorce and possibly affecting a divorce settlement, think again. You're in Kansas now.

While it is unlikely that the law will be enforced, and the constitutionality of the law has been challenged heavily, Kansas statutes still make adultery a criminal act that can result in a fine of up to $500 and — this is not a joke — up to one month of jail time. Yes, you read that correctly. Fortunately, this law is essentially invalidated by Texas court decision from 2003 that determined states cannot regulate sexual behavior that is non-commercial and existing between consenting adults. Still, it is conceivable that a particularly ambitious judge might be tempted to make an example of someone on ethical grounds.

Are you likely to sit in jail for a month because you were caught cheating on your spouse? No, it is highly unlikely. However, the fact that the law remains on the books at the moment speaks to relatively conservative nature of Kansas as a whole. Even though you may not actually see jail time because of adultery, you may see an exceptionally harsh divorce settlement because of it. In any case, you would want to have competent legal representation involved to ensure that your rights remain protected.

Source: findlaw, "Kansas Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws," accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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