The Legal Effect of Infidelity in a Utah Divorce

Many clients contact us each month with questions regarding cheating during the marriage and how this affects their case in a Utah divorce. We have represented numerous individuals on both sides of this question. Adultery during the marriage, as one can imagine, often leads to the eventual dissolution of a marital relationship. Most frequently, the question asked by prospective clients is to what degree, if any, infidelity will have on the major contested issues such as custody, alimony, and child support. There seems to be many misconceptions in the general public regarding this issue. Many people seem to believe if their spouse was cheating, they will automatically be given full custody and basically everything they want in the divorce. On the other hand, some people think adultery has not legal effect whatsoever. The reality is that neither one of these beliefs are entirely true and it can get a little complicated.  In Utah, adultery is considered a fault ground upon which a divorce may be initiated. While Utah is a “no fault” divorce state, meaning neither party has to be at fault for anything the parties can just file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences, a party can allege fault such as adultery. The degree to which this may either benefit or harm one party or the other in a divorce proceeding is addressed below.

Evidence of Affairs and the Law

While adultery is considered grounds for a fault divorce proceeding in Utah, the reality is that affairs during the marriage have little effect in most cases. In 2009, the court of appeals in Utah issued a decision in a case in which the question of adultery was considered as it relates to an alimony award. The court in that case essentially said that absent clearer rules by the state legislature defining the fault statute, an affair should not affect the issues of a divorce. With that being the current rule however, there are still many instances in which issues relating to an affair my play a significant role in the outcome of the case. For instance, if one party is disposing of marital assets in order to protect a paramour, this could play a role in the financial aspects of a divorce. Additionally, if a child is exposed to sexual conduct between a party and another, that may have a significant impact on custody issues. In summary, evidence of an affair alone will not result in some dramatic affect on the issues absent other problems resulting from said affair.

Divorce Attorneys – Salt Lake, Provo, Ogden, St. George

Whichever side you may find yourself regarding affairs during your marriage, you will likely need legal advice from a divorce attorney in Salt Lake, Provo, Ogden, or St. George. With offices across the state of Utah, we can help. We are focused on representing your best interests no matter what the situation.

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