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Why is Adultery a Crime in the Military? Find Out Here!

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

why is adultery a crime in the military

Adultery is not only a crime in the civilian world but also in the military. Aside from the fact that it is gross conduct, why is adultery a crime in the military?

To answer your question, it is a crime because its nature violates the military’s pillars of good order and discipline. Plus, it hurts the service’s reputation, esteem, and proficiency.

Continue reading for more relevant details!

Why Is Adultery a Crime in the Military?


As briefly mentioned in the introduction, there are a few reasons why adultery is criminalized in the military. For one thing, it goes against the military’s value of good order and discipline. For another, it tarnishes the military’s image and reputation.

Under the UCMJ adultery is a criminal offense. It is when a military member engages in sexual relations with someone that is not their spouse. If the member is single or legally separated, engaging with another person who is not single is also considered infidelity in the military.

Another reason adultery is not accepted within the army is that it impacts the military members, consequently affecting their performance. Specifically, such conduct can cause distraction, distrust, lower morale, and diminish the leader’s status.

Extramarital sexual conduct also wastes the military’s time, effort, and resources because of persecution. Given how much this offense can damage the military, it’s not a surprise that it’s considered a crime.

How to Prove Adultery in the Military?


To convict someone of infidelity in military, there must be evidence showing that the accused had sexual intercourse with someone else while being married and that the misconduct is detrimental to the military’s image and nature.

That said, it can be rather complicated to determine whether the act negatively impacts the army. This involves consideration of other factors during the military adultery investigation process, such as:

  • The profile (marital status, rank, position, grade, violations record, etc.) of those involved
  • The relationships of those involved to the military
  • The impact on the unit, branch, and military in general. This also involves the offense’s impact on morale, teamwork, organization, etc.

How to Report Adultery in the Military?

You can report adultery in the military in two ways. You can reach out to the offender’s Commander. In addition, if you’re the significant other of the offender, you can file a divorce petition.

Option #1 – Reaching out to the offender’s Commander

With this option, you must get the Commander’s contact information from the Family Readiness Officer, then report. This sounds easy enough. But because adultery is a crime that can dishonor the unit, it is quite likely that the Commander will not go through with prosecuting the offender.

They would probably give the offender an oral/letter reprimand and call it a day. And you will never get to see justice! If you are a unit member, you might even be condemned for being a “snitch.”

Option #2 – Filing a divorce petition

Filing for a divorce petition means submitting a public record document. With this option, you will surely bring the offender out to court. The reason for the divorce will be discussed, and that is where you can expose the offender.

However, this will only work if you are the spouse of the offender. You cannot use this method if you are simply another military member wanting to report adultery.

What are the Punishments for Adultery in the Military?


There are different punishments, each with a certain degree of severity. Milder adultery in the military consequences include rank reductions and partial pay forfeitures. However, in the worst-case scenario, the offender is dishonorably discharged without pay and allowances.

Additionally, they can be confined for up to a year. The less-grave punishment is an Administrative Disciplinary Action, Administrative Separation, or Court-Martial.

  • Administrative Disciplinary Action: Can include corrective measures, such as extra military instructions, counseling, reprimand, censure, withholding of benefits, etc.
  • Administrative Separation: You are essentially being removed from the military via administrative processes. It is a punitive discharge that can happen within about 15 days.
  • Court-Martial: This is like a civilian court trial. The difference is that it happens in the military realm. There are three types, which differ in terms of the offenses they judge, the judge-jury composition, and the punishments they can give.

Are There Any Changes in Adultery Offenses?

Yes, the offense of adultery has now been renamed “extramarital sexual conduct.” It now counts as a crime regardless of gender and types of sexual intercourse, be it between heterosexual or homosexual couples.

In the past, it only counted as adultery if the act involved vaginal penetration between a straight couple.

Furthermore, defense is now allowed with pending divorces or legal separations.

When is Adultery Legal?

An adultery case can be dismissed if it does not meet the criteria for the prosecution stated above. In this regard, adultery can be deemed “legal.” Some defenses against military cheating are:

  • The accused did not know that they and the other person (co-actor) were not both single
  • The accused believed that they and the other person (co-actor) were lawfully married
  • The accused is pending a divorce or has legally separated from their spouse

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Is the Army adultery policy the same as that for adultery in the Marine Corps?

Yes, the adultery Amry regulation is no different from that of other branches, including the Marine Corps. Adultery is considered a criminal offense under the Adultery UCMJ Article 134, which applies to all of the Armed Forces.

Is sexting considered adultery in the military?

No, sexting is not a crime like adultery in the military. However, it can be proof for other offenses under the UCMJ. For example, it can be used to prove sexual assault or maltreatment in the military.

Regarding adultery in the military punishments, what is the maximum?

The maximum punishment is a dishonorable discharge, a forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and up to one year of confinement.

Should I report my spouse’s adultery in the military?

This is a personal question that you need to decide on your own. However, we can help you with the thought process. Here are some things you might want to consider before making a decision:

  • If you have children, you might get less for child support if your spouse must forfeit pay or drop in ranks.
  • You might lose your military spouse benefits, like TRICARE, if your spouse is discharged dishonorably.

Once you have thought about these aspects, you are informed enough to go ahead and make a choice. You can report by reaching out to your spouse’s Commander or filing a public divorce petition.


Now that you have finished going through this blog post, you should be able to answer, “Why is adultery a crime in the military?”

To recap, there are a few reasons why the military deems infidelity an offense: it counters the military’s good order and discipline, tarnishes its image, affects other members, and wastes the military’s time, effort, and resources.

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