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In marriage, the voluntary pardoning by an innocent spouse of an offense committed by his or her partner conditioned upon the promise that it will not recur.
Condonation, which is used as a defense in Divorce actions based on fault grounds, is strongly supported by public policy. The institution of marriage and its preservation are considered essential for the stability of society, and therefore condonation is encouraged to promote the notion that marriages should not be lightly dissolved.
The elements of condonation are the resumption of normal marital relations after knowledge of the offense or offenses and the promise that the offense will not be repeated. Various cases have attempted to interpret whether or not condonation has actually taken place. If, for example, a wife commits Adultery and her husband, after discovering this, allows her to return to their home but does not resume normal marital relations with her, a full condonation has not taken place. Whether or not a marital relationship has been fully resumed is generally considered to be a Question of Fact in divorce cases.
Whether or not condonation has taken place is important in the area of maintenance or support obligations. In many states, remedies for nonsupport will be granted only when there is a showing that the husband has been guilty of a serious marital offense. If a husband who has committed such an offense can prove condonation, he can use this as a defense to his wife's claim of nonsupport. Similarly, condonation has important consequences in formulating the grounds for divorce. If a woman's husband has beaten her on a few occasions but she subsequently continued to cohabit with him, she might later be unable to sue for divorce on grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment.
Some offenses, such as mental cruelty, due to their ongoing, continuous nature, may not be eliminated by a showing of condonation.
condonationthe defence to an action for divorce for adultery in canon law and other systems, such as Scots law, that the ‘innocent’ spouse having forgiven the adulterous spouse, cannot now take proceedings.
CONDONATION. A term used in the canon law. It is a forgiveness by the
husband of his wife, or by a wife of her husband, of adultery committed,
with an implied condition that the injury shall not be repeated, and that
the other party shall be treated with conjugal kindness. 1 Hagg. R. 773; 3
Eccl. Rep. 310. See 5 Mass. 320 5 Mass. 69; 1 Johns. Ch. R. 488.
2. It may be express or implied, as, if a husband, knowing of his wife's infidelity, cohabit with her. 1 Hagg. Rep. 789; 3 Eccl. R. 338.
3. Condonation is not, for many rea sons, held so strictly against a wife as against a husband. 3 Eccl. R. 830 Id. 341, n.; 2 Edw. R. 207. As all condonations, by operation of law, are expressly or impliedly conditional, it follows that the effect is taken off by the repetition of misconduct; 3 Eccl. R. 329 3 Phillim. Rep. 6; 1 Eccl. R. 35; and cruelty revives condoned adultery. Worsley v. Worsley, cited in Durant v. Durant, 1 Hagg. Rep. 733; 3 Eccl. Rep. 311.
4. In New York, an act of cruelty alone, on the part of the husband, does not revive condoned adultery, to entitle the wife to a divorce. 4 Paige's R. 460. See 3 Edw. R. 207.
5. Where the parties have separate beds, there must, in order to found condonation, be something of matrimonial intercourse presumed; it does not rest merely on the wife's not. withdrawing herself. 3 Eccl. R. 341, n.; 2 Paige, R. 108.
6. Condonation is a bar to a sentence of divorce. 1 Eccl. Rep. 284; 2 Paige, R. 108. In Pennsylvania, by the Act of the 13th of March, 1815, Sec. 7, 6 Reed's Laws of Penna. 288, it is enacted that "in any suit or action for divorce for cause of adultery, if the defendant shall allege and prove that the plaintiff has admitted the defendant into conjugal society or embraces, after he or she knew of the criminal fact, or that the plaintiff (if the husband) allowed of his wife's prostitutions, or received hire, for them, or exposed his wife to lewd company, whereby she became ensnared to the crime aforesaid, it shall be a good defence, and perpetual bar against the same." The same rule may be found, perhaps, in the codes of most civilized countries. Villanova Y Manes, Materia Criminal Forense, Obs. 11, c. 20, n. 4. Vide, generally, 2 Edw. 207; Dev. Eq. R. 352 4 Paige, 432; 1 Edw. R. 14; Shelf. on M. & D. 445; 1 John. Ch. R. 488 4 N. Hamp. R. 462; 5 Mass. 320.