If some Utah state representatives get their way, it may become much more difficult for a divorcing spouse to be awarded alimony in court if he or she had an affair during the marriage. They have proposed a bill that would allow judges to decide whether infidelity was to blame for causing the divorce when considering an alimony request. Besides restricting spousal support, this bill could have implications about Utah’s no-fault divorce status if passed.
The proposed bill is titled Alimony Amendments. It would allow judges to make fault for the divorce a factor when weighing whether to grant alimony to one spouse. “Fault” is defined as “wrongful conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship.” Among the “wrongful conduct” specifically included in the bill is attempting or threatening physical harm to the spouse or their children and having an affair.
An article about the bill suggests that the bill’s backers consider people who have an affair to have purposely sabotaged their marriage. For that spouse to then ask for alimony in the divorce is unfair, the lawmakers contend.
Like virtually every other state, Utah has no-fault divorce, which means that neither spouse has to provide a justification for the divorce as people had to do in previous centuries. If passed, this bill would seem to reintroduce the idea of fault into the divorce process. While it would not directly affect the ability to get divorced, it would present a principle into the process beyond whether spousal support is financially justified.
What do readers think? Is this bill a good idea?
Source: Deseret News, “Utah lawmakers take stand against unfaithful marriages with alimony proposals,” Wendy Leonard, Oct. 17, 2012