|Marriage and other
equivalent or similar unions and status
|Validity of marriages|
|Dissolution of marriages|
|Private international law|
|The Family and the Criminal Code
(or Criminal Law)
In law, recrimination is a defense in an action for divorce in which the accused party makes a similar accusation against the plaintiff. In plain English, it is a lawyer's way of saying, "Takes one to know one."
Recrimination was generally considered by family law experts to be one of the most dysfunctional and illogical aspects of the old fault-based divorce system in common law countries. For example, in the context of a marriage where the marital relationship has collapsed to the point that both spouses are openly committing adultery, the assertion by either spouse of this defense would prevent a divorce even though the family unit is clearly no longer capable of functioning.
The corollary principle of comparative rectitude ameliorated the effects of the recrimination doctrine by holding that if the offenses were of entirely different orders of seriousness, the spouse guilty of the lesser fault was still entitled to relief.
- N.Y. Dom. Rel. L. § 171, found at New York State website, accessed October 27, 2014.
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