How Adultery and Infidelity Relates to Divorce in Utah
As a divorce lawyer, I’m regularly asked about how adultery affects divorce. In Utah, adultery (infidelity) is one of the statutory grounds for divorce. Incompatibility, gross neglect of duty, extreme cruelty, and habitual drunkenness are also grounds for divorce in Utah. None of these grounds are more legally significant than any of the others – they will all suffice to allow the court to find that there are grounds to terminate the marriage.
In Utah, as in most states, adultery is not legally relevant to custody matters. In the eyes of the law, a person can be a bad spouse and that has nothing to do with whether they are a bad parent.
In Utah, adultery has no legal relevance to the division of property. A court will not give one spouse more property than the other in order to punish the spouse who has been unfaithful. In Utah the primary purpose of the divorce court is to divide things and end things.
In Utah, one spouse’s commission of adultery does not automatically mean that the other spouse will be awarded the marital home in the divorce. If the one spouse asks the other to leave as a result of adultery, the faithful spouse will not be any more entitled to have the house than he or she would have been if adultery were not an issue.
In Utah, just because the marriage is ending after adultery, that does not mean a court will fail to consider shared parenting.
Once the marriage is over, the court will rarely enter an order requiring separation between the “object of affection” and the children. Unless a court finds a parent unfit, that parent will have the right to make their own child care arrangements.
When one spouse is leaving a marriage because of adultery, the other spouse may unnecessarily prolong divorce litigation in order to maintain a connection. While adultery is not legally relevant, it is not unusual for divorce litigation to confuse the feelings surrounding infidelity with the legal issues surrounding the end of the marriage.
If one of the parties alienates the children by disclosing the other parent’s infidelity, or worse, by stating the infidelity as the reason for the end of the marriage, a court may find that the disclosing parent is unable to put the needs of the children before their own need for vindication. A pattern of such behavior, with no regard to the strain it causes on the children, could result in custody of the children being awarded to the party who committed adultery, rather than the party who chose to discuss the adultery with the children.
In Utah, the court does not care if you were a good spouse to the unfaithful party, and you did not cause the end of the marriage. The court only cares that the marriage is ending and things have to be ended and divided. You will not be awarded any more spousal support (alimony) than you would receive otherwise, and the court is not going to order the leaving party to “find a way” to let you maintain the exact same lifestyle that you lived before the end of the marriage. The court is going to expect you to live as if the income available to the parties is now being divided among two households.
Be honest with your lawyer about infidelity – it is never a good thing for your lawyer to find out about any relevant information by surprise.
Free Consultation with Divorce Lawyer in Utah
If you have a question about divorce law or if you need to start or defend against a divorce case in Utah call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506