Does Adultery Affect Property Division in a Utah Divorce?

Does Adultery Affect Property Division in a Utah Divorce?

When a marriage ends because a spouse has committed adultery, the legal process of divorce can be highly emotional. In some cases, someone whose husband or wife has cheated might believe that their spouse’s infidelity should be reflected in the distribution of marital property between the parties. However, while adultery remans a legal ground for a person seeking a fault-based divorce, it typically is not a factor when courts decide on the division of assets and debts. 

Utah courts use the equitable distribution standard when parties cannot agree the allocation of property within the marital estate. This means that assets and debts are distributed based on what the judge believes to be fair. An equitable distribution decision does not have to divide the value of the estate evenly and is based on the judge’s consideration of any information they deem to be relevant, including the following factors:

  • Length of the marriage

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property

  • The value of the property at the time of the divorce

  • The economic circumstances of each spouse

Adultery and other forms of marital misconduct are not part of the standard property division analysis, so you should not go into the divorce process looking for the court to punish an unfaithful spouse by giving you a larger share of the marital estate.

Despite the fact infidelity in and of itself might not affect an equitable distribution order, there are ways that a spouse could wind up with a lower share of marital assets as a result of their cheating. For example, if a spouse secretly used significant marital funds to finance their affair, the court might consider this wasteful spending and adjust the property distribution accordingly. Receipts for hotels, meals or travel might be used as evidence if this is an issue. 

An extramarital relationship can also occupy a great deal of time and attention. When a spouse brings less income into the household because they’re neglecting their job responsibilities, that also is relevant to an equitable distribution analysis. Should you have questions as to the effect of adultery on your case, you should speak with an attorney who understands Utah property division as well as other aspects of the state’s divorce process.  

Attorney Victoria Cramer represents clients in divorces and other family law proceedings throughout the greater Salt Lake City area. For a personalized consultation, please call 801-299-9999 or contact us online.