It is a very long time since I was an elder and the elders textbooks have changed multiple times since then. But is this something new?
Going back to when I was an elder, to the best of my knowledge the only way a spouse could divorce from his/her partner was Porneia, if that person had sexual relations with a man, woman, child, or beast. But it had to be proven and that's the dubious 2 witness rule.
In fact, if it was not proven and the innocent party divorced and married someone else, then they could be hauled up in front of a judicial committee and be charged with committing adultery and disfellowshipped! Leaving the original adulterous spouse not only in the congregation but free to marry a new partner if they so wished without reproach!!
However, if the innocent spouse chose not to divorce, what followed was the messy business of alleged forgiveness by this wronged spouse if they resumed sexual relations with the guilty partner which would imply they were accepting them back into the marriage bed.
I say "messy business" because I used to squirm if I had to sit on one of those committees as I was a young single man at this stage of my life; and one of the mature married brothers would be chairman, and asking very probing questions about the poor wife's (it usually was a woman who had been cheated on) bedroom sexual activity and frequency.
I did once chip in with a couple of questions for her as to whether it was consensual or whether there had been any coercion from the husband to resume marital intimacies - only to be chastised by the other 2 members afterwards for going off script and (nobody told me there was a script!) taking the committee's purpose in a different direction.
I guess it was tricky enough to be looking at adultery and forgiveness without it moving into the area of domestic abuse. In fact I recall another occasion where the presiding overseer actually said at a meeting of elders that "since the police don't interfere in domestic disputes unless someone has been killed, us elders shouldn't intervene either, no matter how many bruises we see." His motto was "if it ain't broken don't fix it." Because it would mean work for him and possibly scrutiny from the higher-ups which was not what he wanted in HIS congregation.
Anyway let me get back to my original query. Is this new? In the latest elders manual I saw on an ex-jw webpage I see that there's a part on brazen conduct, and what is referred to as "circumstancial evidence" of adultery, which can lead to a committee etc, etc. But it was the last sentence that caught my attention. That based on this scenario, the spouse can not only divorce, but can marry someone else, and won't be criticized by the congregation for doing so. Surely could be manipulated by someone who just wanted out of a marriage to marry a different person. Pity help the poor man if he spent the night on a sofa, with his secretary in the bedroom, because the hotel reservation had been cancelled by the office junior in error.
The whole judgemental thing inside congregations is so unChristian and part of the controlling nature of those in charge and their deputies. It is rules, rules, and more rules. That's why I was surprised at what appeared to be a loophole in their previous procedures.