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June 24, 2021

Adultery and Divorce in Utah: What You Should Know

Divorce can be one of the most difficult challenges a person faces in life. When adultery is involved in a divorce, the divorce can be even more painful. Indeed, when it comes to reasons Utah couples choose to get divorced, one of the most devastating is adultery. Adultery is a betrayal that cannot easily be overlooked. As divorce lawyers, one of the most common questions asked of us is whether or not a cheating spouse can affect the divorce process. You may be surprised to learn that adultery can affect your divorce in Utah, but maybe not in the way that you think.

The state of Utah treats adultery seriously, much more seriously than many other states. In Utah, adultery was even considered a class B misdemeanor criminal offense until the law was repealed in 2019. Under Utah law, adultery occurs when a married person voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than their spouse. Adultery can also affect the divorce process. While adultery will not affect the property division, child custody, or visitation, it may affect a spouse’s ability to receive alimony payments. 

 

What Role Does Adultery Play in a Utah Divorce?

To understand the role adultery plays in a Utah divorce, we should consider the two different types of divorce — “no-fault” and “fault-based” divorce. Most couples in Utah choose to pursue a no-fault divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the couple does not have to prove that one person has engaged in adultery or other types of marital misconduct. Instead, the couple only needs to agree that they have irreconcilable differences. Or, the couple can simply state that they have lived apart from their spouse without cohabitating for at least three years.

A fault-based divorce requires the spouse petitioning the court for divorce to prove that the other spouse is engaged in one of the grounds for divorce recognized by Utah law. Adultery is one of the grounds for divorce in Utah. Many people do not choose to pursue a fault-based divorce because it can require more time in the courtroom and be more expensive. The party petitioning for the divorce will need to hire an investigator or work with their attorney to gather evidence proving that the other spouse engaged in adultery. 

 

Understanding Alimony in Utah Divorces

Whether you choose to pursue a no-fault or fault-based divorce in Utah, adultery can affect the outcome of your divorce. Utah judges are allowed to consider adultery when they determine how much alimony to award. If you believe that your spouse should not receive alimony from you because of adultery, you’ll need to gather evidence to prove to the court that the affair occurred. Evidence of adultery typically includes any or all of the following:

  • Phone records
  • Credit card or bank statements
  • Photographs
  • Witness testimony 
  • Any other evidence showing the spouse was unfaithful 

In many marriages, one spouse becomes dependent financially on the other spouse. Although many marriages have two working spouses, typically, one spouse will earn more money than the other spouse. Sometimes one spouse is responsible for earning the bulk of the household income, and the other spouse spends more time taking care of the children or household. Utah courts can require the higher-earning spouse to pay the lower-earning spouse alimony. When determining alimony, Utah judges consider multiple factors, including:

  •  The earning ability of the paying spouse
  •  The financial needs of the dependent spouse
  •  The length of the marriage
  •  Whether the dependent spouse has custody of minor children
  •  Whether the dependent spouse work for the paying spouse during the marriage
  •  The standard of living during the marriage
  •  The fault of either spouse during the marriage, including domestic violence or adultery

When a couple has been married for a longer time, Utah judges typically try to equalize the spouse’s standard of living. They want both spouses to have a similar standard of living after the divorce. However, courts may try to return the spouses to their original living standards before the marriage in shorter marriages. Judges can alter alimony payments when there is a substantial change in the spouse’s financial conditions after the divorce.

 

How Does Adultery Affect Alimony in Utah?

When one spouse can convince the judge that the other spouse and engaged in adultery led to the marital breakup, the judge can deny alimony to the guilty spouse. It is not uncommon for Utah judges to bar spouses who have been unfaithful from receiving alimony, even if they would have received alimony normally. 

However, if your spouse committed adultery, but you forgave him or her and caps living together for a significant time after learning about the affair, the judge will not consider adultery when determining alimony. Additionally, if both spouses have had an adulterous affair, the court will not be able to stop your spouse from receiving alimony from you because of your spouse’s infidelity.

 

Does Adultery Affect the Division of Property?

Utah family court judges cannot consider adultery when determining how to divide a couple’s property in a divorce. Likewise, adultery will not affect child custody and visitation during a divorce unless the parent’s behavior during the affair showed an inability to care for the children. In that case, the court will consider all of the factors involved when deciding on the final child custody agreement.

There is one exception to this general rule. If one spouse spent a significant amount of the couple’s shared money on the adulterous affair, the court may give the non-adulterous spouse a larger share of the marital property to compensate him or her for the lost money. Suppose you believe that you should receive a larger share of the marital property due to your spouse’s affair. In that case, we recommend gathering financial statements, receipts, text messages, and any other proof of your spouse’s affair.

Divorce can be one of the most difficult challenges a person faces in life. When adultery is involved in a

Comments

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Some Of The Most Common Reasons For Marital Breakdowns - Matt Sweetwood

  2. Cathy

    My ex was committing adultery throughout out 5 year marriage and the 9 years prior to our marriage. I was the only one with steady income from the start. I receive social security disability, so it wasn’t much income and I supported both of us and maintained our home. It had been my home for over 20 years prior to meeting my ex. During our relationship my ex was in and out of county jails and the Utah state prison, she needed money on her books constantly and if I told her the only money I had was for my mortgage payment, she would manipulate me and make me feel guilty, or that she would find someone else to take care of her, and she always promised that she would pay back the money when she was released. Well, she never paid it back and my payments stayed behind and by the time my mortgage company was going to foreclose, my credit had suffered a great deal, I couldn’t get a loan modification, or refinance or find any option other than chapter 13 bankruptcy. I had to file 3 times over our 12 years together. I finally divorced her and managed to hang on to my home until I was facing foreclosure again 3 months ago, I couldn’t file bankruptcy again because I couldn’t pay trustee payments and my regular mortgage payments on my income and it was always dismissed. So I ended up having to sell my home of 40 years for way below the median selling price for my area, no equity either. I didn’t get enough to get a new place to live, I had to buy a 5th wheel travel trailer and a truck to pull it only to learn that you can’t just pullover and park the trailer wherever you find a spot. So I’ve spent the better part of 3 months driving around. And the few times I have been able to get permission to park the trailer, somehow my ex finds out and calls city officials who throw me out due to city ordinances prohibiting camping even on private property. Now my question, I was awarded alimony plus a lump sum that the decree gave her a year to pay plus $200 a month alimony for 5 years, I have been trying to get my ex to comply with the decree without success for over 2 years and finally hired an attorney to help me enforce the decree, is it possible for me to make her pay extra for the loss of my home since it happened due to her demanding money and manipulation and empty promises, that has resulted in me being homeless? I’m 61 years old and had never imagined my life would end up like this. The money I was able to set aside is almost gone due to having to buy gas for my truck, propane for my trailer, and other expenses. I can’t find an rv park that I can afford to park it in, and very few will let you park a 22 year old travel trailer that’s 32 feet long in their parks and the one or two that will let me rent a spot charge almost $400 per week plus electricity and water. My income is only just over $1000 a month. There is no way I can pay fees like that. I’m struggling to pay for storage to keep my personal property already.! Is there any option for recourse? She is living with her boyfriend at her mothers house, pays no rent or utilities. Has no bills she is paying. She and her transient loser boyfriend have a long history of eviction for non payment of rent. They both have huge outstanding utility bills because they have always lived at someone else’s expense. They have ran out of friends to use so they are now using my ex mother in law. They have also made everyone believe that I am at fault for the breakup of our marriage somehow even though she is living with her paramour, who happens to have been a friend of mine. I got screwed in every way possible. Can I ask for the alimony to be increased? She actually works now and makes good money and they have the losers income also when he chooses to work. And then theres the fact that they pay nothing or provide anything for themselves. Is there anyway I can get justice somehow?

    • Read & Read

      I am so sorry to hear about all of you struggles with your ex. Do you have time to give our office a call and we can talk about some of your concerns?

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