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Adultery is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and another person who is not his or her spouse. The exact definition varies between cultures and legal jurisdictions. In most cases, only the married party is said to have committed adultery, and if both parties are married (but not to each other) then they both commit separate acts of adultery.
The term adultery has a Judeo-Christian origin. The concept is common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, though Hinduism has a similar concept. But the word should be used cautiously when discussing other cultures, some of which permit less permanent forms of marriage, or even sexual "lending".
In the United States, adultery is a crime in some some legal jurisdictions, but not in others (see below). However, even in jurisdictions where adultery is not itself a criminal offence, it may have legal consequences, particularly in divorce cases. For example it may constitute grounds for divorce, it may be a factor to consider in a property settlement, it may affect the status of children, the custody of children, etc. Moreover, adultery may result in social ostracism.
It has been claimed that the desire to commit adultery, like the compulsive desire to consume alcohol, results from a mental disorder. However, if so, it is an extremely common one, as three recent studies in the United States, using nationally representative samples, have found that about 10-15% of women and 20-25% of men engage in extramarital sex.