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In most Western countries, adultery itself is no longer a criminal offense, but may still have legal consequences, particularly in divorce cases.For example, in fault-based family law jurisdictions, adultery almost always constitutes a ground for divorce and may be a factor in property settlement, the custody of children, the denial of alimony, etc.Although the legal definition of adultery differs in nearly every legal system, the common theme is sexual relations outside of marriage, in one form or another.
Though what sexual activities constitute adultery varies, as well as the social, religious, and legal consequences, the concept exists in many cultures and is similar in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
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.
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.