Adultery in Utah: Does Cheating Affect Alimony?
Learn whether an extramarital affair can impact spousal support in Utah.
Adultery impacts thousands of Utah marriages each year. Many of these marriages will end in divorce. In many states, adultery can determine whether a spouse is eligible for alimony and can affect property division as well. This article will answer what impact adultery has on a Utah divorce. If you have additional questions after reading this article, contact at Utah family law attorney.
What Role Does Adultery Play in a Utah Divorce?
In Utah, adultery is defined as a married person having sexual intercourse voluntarily with someone other than that person’s spouse. Adultery is taken very seriously under Utah law and is a misdemeanor criminal offense.
Utah courts will consider adultery when determining whether and how much alimony to award, but it's not a factor when dividing the couple’s property.
If you believe your spouse should not receive alimony because of an affair, you will need to gather evidence to prove that the affair occurred - this can include phone records, credit card or bank statements, and any other evidence that shows your spouse was unfaithful. Proving this in court can be complicated, so it's best to consult a family law attorney in your area to see if you will be able to prove your spouse’s adultery.
Overview of Alimony in Utah
Often, during a marriage, one spouse becomes financially dependent on the other. Many marriages today have two working spouses, but most still involve some sort of division of labor, where one spouse is responsible for earning more income, while the other spouse is more responsible for taking care of the household or children.
During a divorce, Utah courts can order the spouse earning more income to make payments to a financially dependent spouse called alimony.
Utah courts consider the following factors when deciding alimony:
- financial needs of the dependent spouse
- earning ability of the paying spouse
- length of the marriage
- whether the dependent spouse has custody of minor children
- whether the dependent spouse worked for the paying spouse during the marriage
- whether the dependent spouse contributed to the job skills or education of the paying spouse
- standard of living during the marriage, and
- fault of either spouse during the marriage, including adultery or domestic violence.
In longer marriages, Utah courts may choose to equalize the standard of living of the spouses after the divorce. For shorter marriages, courts may try to return spouses to their original standard of living before the marriage. Utah courts can always change the alimony award if there is a substantial change in the spouses’ financial conditions after the divorce. For more details on alimony in Utah, read Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Utah.
How Does Adultery Impact Alimony in Utah?
If the judge believes you have proven that your spouse was unfaithful, and that infidelity led to the breakup of the marriage, the court may deny alimony to your spouse.
The adultery has to be a major cause for the breakup of the marriage for it to prevent an unfaithful spouse from receiving alimony in the divorce. If your spouse was unfaithful, but you forgave your spouse and continued to live together for a significant time after the affair, the court won’t consider the adultery when deciding alimony. And if you have also had an affair, the court you likely won’t be able to prevent your spouse from receiving alimony because of your spouse’s affair.
What Else Does Adultery Impact?
In Utah, adultery doesn’t directly impact property division in a divorce. If a spouse spent a significant amount of the couple’s money on an affair, however, the court may give the faithful spouse a larger share of the couple’s property to compensate for the lost money.
If you believe you should receive a larger share of property because of your spouse’s spending on an affair, you should gather receipts and financial statements to show how and when your spouse spent the marital assets.
Utah doesn’t consider adultery when deciding child custody or visitation. The only exception is if the behavior displayed during the affair shows a spouse’s inability to take care of the children.
If you have additional questions about divorce and adultery in Utah, contact a Utah family law attorney.
To read the full text of the law on alimony in Utah, see the Utah Code Annotated § 30-3-5.