The David Petraeus sex scandal serves as the backdrop to Ethan Bronner’s New York Times article, which describes the law of “adultery” as it exists today. In 23 states (including Maryland), according to Bronner, adultery is classified as a bona fide crime. Bronner compares the U.S. to the rest of the world, which does not take its adultery as seriously, and generally fails to punish it as a crime at all.
But while much of the U.S. still considers adultery a crime (at least according to criminal codes), the crime is rarely prosecuted. Instead, adultery often plays a role in family law cases involving child custody and divorce, even in states with “no-fault” divorce, where one party describes the other party’s conduct in making his or her case on certain issues.
Bronner quotes one law professor who has done research on the subject: “Now we live in an age when sex is not limited to marriage and laws are slowly responding to that. But we still love marriage. Nobody is going to say adultery is O.K.”