Marriages can end in divorce for many reasons, but there are some cases where cheating is the main trigger for the breakdown of the relationship. If your spouse was the one to be unfaithful to you, it isn’t necessarily going to grant you more say or sympathy from the courts in your divorce case. However, in addition to your divorce case and with the help of CoilLaw, LLC as your Sandy divorce lawyers, you could sue the unfaithful spouse’s lover (paramour) for emotional and financial damages.
Alienation of Affection Laws
This type of lawsuit justification falls under “alienation of affection” laws, and Utah is one of six states (along with Hawaii, South Dakota, Mississippi, North Carolina, and New Mexico) left that still has this law. Besides paramours, these types of claims have also been applied to and been made against other third parties, such as therapists, clergy members, or other family members, who perhaps advised for a divorce, or otherwise maliciously interfered in the couple’s marriage. This is a civil law suit and would be filed separately from a divorce action.
The Utah Supreme Court has said that the reason for this law in Utah is to protect “the foundation of a marriage and give rise to the unique bonding that occurs in a successful marriage.” Those “whose malicious interventions have destroyed marital bonds have been held liable for alienation of affections.”
Is Utah a Fault State?
Utah is a Fault State. The issue of whether a court may consider fault as it relates to alimony is now settled law and trial courts are well within their discretion to address fault when calculating alimony. See Utah Code Ann. §30-3-5(8)(b)-(c)(i-iv). It is clear from Utah Code Ann. §30-3-5(8)(b)-(c)(i-iv) that it is the express intent of the legislature that fault can be considered when calculating alimony.
- The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining whether to award alimony and the terms thereof.
- “Fault” means any of the following wrongful conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship:
- engaging in sexual relations with a person other than the party’s spouse;
- knowingly and intentionally causing or attempting to cause physical harm to the other party or minor children;
- knowingly and intentionally causing the other party or minor children to reasonably fear life-threatening harm; or
- substantially undermining the financial stability of the other party or the minor children.
The plain meaning of the Utah Code Ann. §30-3-5(8)(b)-(c)(i-iv) makes clear that a Court has the discretion to address fault with calculating spousal support and, in fact, “the Court may order or withhold alimony and adjust the amount and the term of any alimony ordered based on that wrongful conduct.” Id. This would be alleged in your divorce action.
How Do I Prove My Spouse Cheated on Me?
You don’t actually have to have some sort of physical proof of extramarital sex to make this claim; however you would need to show the court that (1) the marriage entailed love between the spouses in some degree (loving texts, cards, photos or videos, for example); (2) the spousal love was alienated and destroyed; and (3) the defendant’s malicious conduct contributed to or caused the loss of affection. You also need to show that the infidelity occurred while you were married and living together (not after a separation).
Getting Help with Your Utah Divorce Case
If you are looking into a divorce or alienation of affection suit and need legal help, we’re here for you. You need to ensure you consult with a competent family law attorney that understands the legalities of divorce and alienation of affection torts in Utah and will help put your mind at ease so you don’t get taken advantage of. At CoilLaw, LLC, Salt Lake City Divorce attorney Jill Coil knows how to advise you during a divorce to help you achieve the best settlement and/or result possible. At CoilLaw we are ready and available to help you through your legal action. If you need legal advice concerning a Utah family law issue, call our Sandy divorce attorney, Jill Coil, at CoilLaw LLC in Utah at (801) 939-6027 today.