The first two elements of adultery under the UCMJ are fairly straightforward and shouldn’t require further explanation.
The third and final element is where our simple question starts to become complicated.
Fort Gordon, Georgia -- Almost every week at the Legal Assistance Divorce & Separation Briefing, we receive the question, “If I am legally separated and start dating, can I get in trouble in the military for adultery?
” Since the formal legal process of divorce can last months (or sometimes years), this question raises an important concern for anyone in uniform who is pending a divorce.
We ended up doing months of couples therapy to get our relationship back to where it should be, and as of a year later, we both haven't cheated and do want to be together.The “explanation” portion of Article 134 identifies several considerations military commanders should consider in determining whether an act of sexual intercourse could satisfy the third and final element of adultery under the UCMJ, including whether the Soldier or their sexual partner was “legally separated.” When people refer to being “legally separated,” they generally mean one of two distinct legal situations " either they have signed a formal separation agreement with their spouse or that a state court has issued an order of separation.A formal separation agreement is essentially a written contract between a husband and wife resolving the significant legal issues between them involving property, debt, support, child custody, etc. Here, experts explain this phenomenon and dispel other popular cheating myths. They're largely satisfied with all they have and aren't looking for a way out, yet they still find themselves in bed with other women—and in hot water with their wives.