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Ask the Divorce Attorney: Does An Affair Impact Spousal Maintenance or Child Support?

Divorces are complicated events, filled with emotions and challenges. One frequently asked question revolves around the implications of an affair on the outcome of a divorce, especially concerning spousal maintenance and child support. In this article, we will delve into Arizona’s family law perspective on this sensitive topic and shed some light on some misconceptions surrounding it.

The Legal Landscape of Arizona Divorces

In Arizona, divorces operate on a no-fault basis, meaning that neither party needs to prove wrongdoing by the other to end the marriage. This system aims to streamline the divorce process by avoiding the need to present evidence of misconduct. Consequently, the mere act of having an affair doesn’t directly influence the court’s decision regarding asset division or spousal support. However, the nuances of individual cases can sometimes bring marital conduct into the spotlight, albeit indirectly.

The Impact of an Affair on Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, commonly referred to as alimony, is a provision designed to financially support a spouse who may be at an economic disadvantage post-divorce. In Arizona, a determination is first made as to whether one of the spouses is eligible for spousal maintenance based on a number of factors such as whether one party lacks the earning ability in the labor market to achieve self-sufficiency. If a spouse is determined to be eligible, the amount and duration of spousal maintenance are determined by application of the new spousal maintenance guidelines with adjustments based on various considerations, including the size of the family, the spouses’ incomes, and the length of the marriage. The mere presence of an affair, due to the state’s no-fault divorce stance, doesn’t affect these determinations.

The Impact of an Affair on Child Support

Child support in Arizona is principally structured around the best interests of the child, ensuring their fundamental needs—such as education, health care, and basic living expenses—are met. The state employs a set of guidelines that factor in parents’ incomes, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and other child-related expenses to determine the appropriate support amount. An affair, as a reason for divorce, is not typically factored directly into these calculations as child support aims to maintain the child’s standard of living rather than penalize marital misconduct.

However, there might be indirect scenarios where an affair can touch upon child support considerations. For instance, if the unfaithful spouse expended significant marital assets or funds on their extramarital partner, leading to reduced financial resources for the child, this might be taken into account. Another scenario could be if the affair leads to a situation that affects the child’s well-being directly, such as introducing them to an unsuitable environment or individuals, which might cause the court to reassess custody arrangements and, consequently, child support responsibilities.

The Emotional and Financial Repercussions of an Affair in Divorce Proceedings

The emotional toll of an affair can deeply impact divorce proceedings. Trust, once broken, can lead to heightened feelings of resentment, anger, and betrayal during the divorce process. These strong emotions may affect communication between spouses, making negotiations over asset division, child custody, or other critical matters more challenging. Consequently, the heightened animosity can create a prolonged legal battle, making it harder for both parties to find closure and move on.

Financially, an affair can also have cascading repercussions in a divorce. The process itself might become more expensive due to increased litigation, especially if one party is less inclined to settle amicably because of the infidelity. Additionally, if significant marital assets were spent on the affair, it could lead to disagreements on how the remaining assets should be divided. This contention might necessitate forensic accounting or other investigations, adding to the overall cost and duration of the divorce proceedings.

Other Divorce Components Affected by an Affair

An affair can ripple through various facets of a divorce beyond just spousal maintenance and child support. For one, asset division might become contentious if one spouse perceives the other as having wasted marital funds on the extramarital relationship. Furthermore, the presence of an affair could potentially affect negotiations on custody and visitation rights, especially if the third party is deemed to have a potential negative influence on the children. 

Protecting Your Rights and Interests

In the midst of the turbulence that accompanies divorce, especially one marred by infidelity, it’s paramount to safeguard your rights and interests. Engaging a knowledgeable attorney well-versed in Arizona’s family law can provide crucial guidance and advocacy. They can ensure you’re informed of all legal implications, offer objective advice amid emotional turmoil, and represent your best interests in negotiations and court proceedings. Staying proactive and informed is the key to navigating the complexities of divorce with your rights intact.

Cohen Family Law Can Help With Your Divorce

Divorce, particularly where there has been an affair, can be a challenging journey fraught with emotional and legal hurdles. However, with the right guidance, you can move forward with clarity and confidence. Our dedicated team at Cohen Family Law is here to stand by your side, offering advice and compassionate support. Reach out to us today to ensure your rights are protected and your future is secured.