The Effect of Adultery on Alimony

Is adultery still a crime in Arizona?

Marriages end for many reasons and infidelity can lead a couple on the path to divorce. What many individuals may not realize is that adultery is actually illegal in some states. Under Arizona law, for example, if a married individual files a complaint claiming that his or her spouse had a sexual relationship outside of the marriage, the wayward spouse may be found guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

If the adulterer is convicted, he or she may face a penalty of up to 30 days in jail, $500 in fines, and 1 year of probation. The reality of the situation, however, is that the law is generally not enforced. At the same time, some may wonder what effect adultery will have on alimony.

What is Alimony?

In Arizona, alimony is referred to as spousal maintenance, and it is designed to maintain the financial stability of the receiving spouse. There are a number of factors the court will consider including the duration of the marriage, the couple’s standard of living during the marriage, whether the receiving spouse has the resources to provide for his or her reasonable needs, and the financial ability of the providing spouse to meet those needs. The court may also consider vocational training  or education that the party seeking alimony may need to find suitable employment as well as other factors.

There are generally two types of alimony: temporary alimony while the divorce is proceeding, and post-divorce alimony which can be permanent or limited to the time it takes for the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient.

Adultery and Alimony

Because Arizona is a “no fault” state, it is not necessary to prove marital misconduct to be granted a divorce. Although an innocent party may be harmed by the other spouses infidelity, and adultery is a misdemeanor under state law, the court will not consider any evidence of wrongdoing. Similarly, with respect to making determinations about spousal maintenance, adultery is not a consideration. A judge’s order must be reasonable and just and made “without regard to marital misconduct.”

Ultimately, decisions about alimony must consider the factors mentioned above and adultery will have no bearing on whether the court will award spousal maintenance. If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities regarding spousal maintenance and any other matter related to divorce, call Cohen Family Law for an evaluation of your case at 602-714-8898