Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Affairs, abuse and financial issues all at play in alimony

Over the course of a marriage, Salt Lake City residents often sacrifice for their spouses. Whether it be sacrificing time, money, opportunities or other issues, spouses may take any number of actions to benefit their significant other.

Unfortunately, the reverse of this is true as well, as spouses frequently engage in conduct that is detrimental to the other spouse and the marriage as a whole. As discussed last week in this blog, this kind of conduct can lead to a divorce, and it can pose a significant issue in the context of the divorce proceeding itself.

One key issue where a party's fault may be considered is in determining whether to award alimony. Under Utah law, fault is defined to include engaging in sexual relations with a person other than the party's spouse. Accordingly, an affair may be a relevant consideration in dispute, as the court can consider these circumstances when awarding alimony.

However, bad conduct extends beyond sexual relations. Fault also includes knowing and intentionally causing harm to the other party or minor children, or causing the other party or children to reasonably fear life-threatening harm.

Fault also can include undermining the financial stability of the family. For instance, the court can consider an individual's conduct in significantly dissipating the marital assets.

Ultimately, while there are different kinds of conduct defined as fault under Utah law, fault is just one of many factors the court can consider in deciding whether to award alimony. Accordingly, individuals should understand all of the factors that may influence the court's decision, as well as how they can explain to the court how those factors are at issue under the facts of the case.

Source: Utah State Legislature, "Title 30, Chapter 3, Section 5," accessed on July 9, 2016

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