Defenses to Adultery in Hugh Hefner’s Divorce

14 September, 2009 by Lawrence in Divorce

If you follow the news of pajama-clad celebrities, you’ve probably heard that Hugh Hefner filed for divorce from his wife, Kimberly Conrad.  The actual divorce pleading cites the grounds of irreconcilable differences, but in an interview Hefner mentions that Kimberly had once cheated on him.

Some might wonder why he wouldn’t include the alleged adultery as grounds for divorce.  I can’t speak to the situation in California, but if this divorce had been filed in Tennessee Conrad would have several defenses to the charge of adultery.


This is a fancy word that means the spouse accused of cheating either had permission to do the deed, or was forgiven afterwards.  Therefore, if a man allows his spouse to “receive company”, his wife has a defense to the grounds of adultery in a divorce proceeding.

Also, even if a person is unaware that his spouse is cheating, he may forgive her for it later.  If, after discovering her infidelity he has intercourse with her even a single time, a court could find that he had condoned her behavior and allow this defense against the ground of adultry.

However, there is an important limitation:  The scope of permission cannot be exceeded.  For example, if a wife gives her husband permission to have a tryst with her best friend, and the husband engages in the act with the best friend and her yoga instructor, the husband has exceeded the scope of permission and has lost this defense.


The defense of connivance is very similar to condonation, except that both spouses have participated from the beginning.  For example, if a husband convinces his wife to attend a swingers party, and the result is the wife enjoys herself a little more than the husband thought she would, the wife will have a defense to his claim of adultery.  In this case the husband either participated in or prompted the behavior, and the court will not have any sympathy for him.

Like Behavior

This is the defense which is most likely to work against Hugh.  Obviously, if he is guilty of adultery as well, he should not be allowed to use his wife’s indiscretion against her.

I have to admit though, I would enjoy watching Hugh try to explain with a straight face that he’d not engaged in any “like behavior” during his marriage to Conrad.

What You Need to Know

In this state, if you’ve discovered that your spouse has cheated, you need to decide what to do with this information.  You can decide to forgive and move on, or you can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.   Which way you go is up to you, but you have to recognize that once the behavior is forgiven, it’s forgiven forever.

In Hefner’s case, he’s said that the infidelity occurred more than 10 years ago (while the couple was still living together).  Even if he wasn’t the star of The Girls Next Door, he had long since  provided Kimberly with a defense to the divorce.

1 comment

  1. […] touch on a couple of issues I’ve written about recently.  I had written about whether or not Hugh Hefner’s wife could use “adultery” as grounds, and I’ve described how property division is handled in Tennessee.  So how would a Tennessee […]