Adultery in Arizona: Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

Learn whether an extramarital affair can impact spousal support in Arizona.

Does cheating on your spouse cost you when it comes to alimony in Arizona? Find out below. This article provides an overview of alimony and whether adultery has an impact on alimony awards in Arizona. If you have specific questions, you should contact an experienced family law attorney for help.

Alimony in Arizona

Alimony goes by other names, including "spousal support" and "maintenance," but they all mean the same thing. Although "spousal maintenance" is the correct legal term to use in Arizona, we'll use the terms "alimony" and "support" throughout this article.

Divorce can be financially turbulent for everyone - alimony is supposed to help stabilize this situation. In many cases, one spouse is wealthier than the other, has a higher-paying job, a better career, or access to more assets. The other spouse may be considerably poorer and have fewer opportunities and less education. Alimony is the amount that the wealthier spouse pays to the low-earner spouse during and after a divorce. It provides a way for both spouses to have enough money to live as close as possible to the standard of living they enjoyed when they were married.

In Arizona, there are different types of alimony. Before the divorce is even finalized, either spouse can ask the court to order "temporary" alimony, which will only last while the divorce is pending.

For post-divorce alimony, the judge will order an amount and duration that's fair and reasonable under the circumstances. It can be "permanent" or ordered for a shorter period of time. Sometimes it will only last as long as it takes for the other spouse to become self-sufficient, this is referred to as "rehabilitative" alimony.

An Arizona family court judge can order alimony if any of the following are true:

  • the spouse asking for maintenance lacks sufficient property to provide for all reasonable needs
  • the spouse asking for maintenance is unable to be self-sufficient through appropriate employment, or is the custodian of a child whose age or condition is such that the custodian shouldn't work outside the home, or lacks the earning ability in the labor market that's necessary to be self-sufficient
  • the spouse seeking maintenance contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse, or
  • the spouse seeking maintenance has been married to the other spouse for a long time and is too old to regain adequate employment and become self-sufficient.

Get detailed information about how alimony is determined, see Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Arizona.

    What Role Does Adultery Play in an Arizona Divorce?

    Adultery occurs when someone who is legally married engages in a voluntary sexual encounter or relationship with someone other than the person's legal spouse.

    Many states have laws that have the effect of punishing adulterous spouses by ending their marriages. These "fault" states say that adultery is "grounds" (a legal basis) for divorce.

    However, Arizona takes a different approach. The vast majority of divorces in Arizona are "no-fault," which means that it's not necessary to prove marital misconduct (like adultery), or that an innocent spouse was harmed. The courts won't even consider evidence of wrongdoing. They will simply grant a divorce and end the marriage.

    There is one exception to Arizona's no-fault rule. Arizona allows people to obtain what are known as "covenant marriages." These are marriages identical to all others except that the spouses have undergone special premarital counseling to strengthen their bond. If you have a covenant marriage rather than a typical civil marriage, then youare entitled to a fault-based divorce if your spouse has committed adultery.

    Does Adultery Affect Alimony Awards in Arizona?

    No. In Arizona, judges can't consider any evidence of adultery when they decide whether, for how long, and how much alimony to award. Alimony orders have to be just and must be made "without regard to marital misconduct." This is a very strict prohibition. Judges can only consider the following factors:

    • the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
    • the duration of the marriage
    • the age, employment history, earning ability and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance
    • the ability of the paying spouse to meet the needs of both the obligor and the obligee
    • the spouses' comparative financial resources, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market
    • the contribution of the spouse seeking alimony to the earning ability of the other spouse
    • the extent to which the spouse seeking alimony has reduced his or her income or career opportunities to benefit the other spouse during the marriage
    • the ability of both spouses to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children after the divorce is finalized
    • the financial resources of the spouse seeking alimony, including marital property awarded to that spouse by the judge, and also including the spouse's ability to meet needs independently
    • the time necessary to acquire sufficient training or education to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment, and whether that training and education is readily available
    • excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of the couple's common assets during the marriage and the divorce proceedings
    • the cost for the spouse seeking alimony to obtain health insurance and the reduction in the paying spouse's cost of health insurance if he or she is able to convert family insurance to employee insurance after divorce, and
    • all actual damages and judgments from conduct that resulted in the criminal conviction of either spouse in which the other spouse or a child was the victim.

    When judges make orders about property division and alimony, they must be "just" and consider all these factors. This means that the court has to divide the property in a fair and reasonable way that doesn't enrich one spouse and impoverish the other.

    Additional Resources

    If you have questions about alimony and adultery in Arizona, please contact an experienced family law attorney for help.

    For self-help purposes, you can also look at the Arizona Judicial Branch's Self-Service Center, file your forms electronically or check the status of your case on, and even read the official version of Title 25 (Marital and Domestic Relations) of the Arizona Statutes.

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