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Faulkner Discusses New York State’s Adultery Law in Washington Post Article

March 26, 2024

The Washington Post

In New York state, it's long been a criminal offense to cheat on one's spouse. But after nearly 120 years, a law against adultery—a misdemeanor in New York—could be removed from the books. 

Laws criminalizing adultery are on the books in a handful of other states but are rarely enforced. In most cases, they were put on the books at a time when adultery was among the only ways to obtain a divorce, according to Carol Faulkner, professor of history and author of “Unfaithful: Love, Adultery, and Marriage Reform in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019).”

“In South Carolina, you couldn’t get a divorce at all,” Faulkner says. “In New York State, if couples wanted to divorce, they’d sometimes have to create an adultery claim.” 

Read more in the Washington Post article, “It’s a crime to cheat on a spouse in N.Y. The law might soon change.”

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