How to prove adultery?

With new technologies, virtual, real, or semi-virtual adultery has become prevalent as a means to add excitement and deviation from one’s daily routines and habits. It used to be severely punished, especially for women, who risked imprisonment, while husbands faced only fines, prior to 1975. However, since July 1975, it has been decriminalized (repeal of articles 336 to 339 of the penal code) and is no longer an absolute ground for divorce. There have been reforms in divorce laws in 2005 aimed at simplifying technical procedures. Adultery still constitutes a civil wrong (article 212 of the civil code: “spouses owe each other respect, fidelity, support, and assistance”) concerning the duties of marriage and can be sanctioned in divorce proceedings.

A detective can become involved if they possess concrete evidence of a violation of article 212, regardless of its nature (evidence of adultery, a private investigator’s report, attestations, letters, emails, faxes, phone records, text messages, a diary with confessions according to article 259 of the civil code). However, if the evidence is obtained through violence or fraud or infringes upon privacy (such as recording telephone conversations or accessing password-protected documents, as per article 259-2 of the civil code), the evidence will be inadmissible. Upon the request of a bailiff, a detective may witness adultery in the conjugal home or in a hotel after obtaining authorization from the high court.

If one of the spouses lives with another person while falsely claiming to be alone, or if a spouse has previously lied to a judge, this can be considered irrefutable proof of wrongdoing. In this context, the detective plays a crucial role in monitoring the adultery case. However, a descendant cannot testify in an adultery case (article 259-1 of the civil code). The court of appeal has declared that “changes in morals and moral concepts no longer allow us to consider that the imputation of marital infidelity alone would be sufficient to harm honor or consideration.”

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