After a twenty-two year marriage, a couple divorced. Before the divorce trial, they settled issues related to child custody and the distribution of their marital property, but they could not agree on the proper terms of the husband’s alimony obligation to his ex-wife. After a three-day bench trial, the district court determined that the wife was entitled to alimony, but, because of her extramarital sexual affairs, the court reduced her alimony award in amount and duration.
Specifically, the district court calculated the amount of the alimony award based on the wife’s expected reasonable monthly expenses, rather than on the monthly expenses she had incurred while married to her former spouse. The court also set the alimony award for ten years rather than the maximum statutory length of twenty-two years. The district court stated that it was making these reductions because it did not believe it would be fair, where the wife’s conduct had substantially contributed to the demise of the marital relationship, to obligate the husband to maintain her at the standard of living she enjoyed during the marriage.
The wife then appealed the terms of the alimony award, arguing the district court erred in the following respects:
- In determining that her infidelities substantially contributed to the end of the marriage
- In setting the specific terms of the alimony award
- In imputing income to her at an “arbitrary amount”
- In failing to consider the tax burden of the alimony award
- In denying her request for attorney fee
According to the Utah Supreme Court, because none of the alleged errors constituted an abuse of the district court’s discretion or were plainly incorrect, the district court’s alimony determination was affirmed on all counts.