How Does Adultery Affect a Divorce?

Infidelity is one of the most common reasons that a marriage comes to an end. When one spouse has cheated, it is very common for a divorce lawyer to be contacted and for the possibility of divorce to at least be explored. Whether you are the person who was cheated on or you are the one who had an extra-marital affair, it is very important to understand what impact, if any, the adultery will have on the process of dissolving a marriage. 

The divorce process in Arizona can be complicated, with many different questions arising. It is important to understand your rights at every stage of the dissolution process. Singer Pistiner, P.C. is a Scottsdale family law firm with extensive experience representing clients who are ending their marriages. We have provided legal advocacy to many clients whose marriages are ending as a result of adultery and we can provide the guidance you need to ensure that the divorce process goes as smoothly as possible and that you end up with a custody arrangement and divorce settlement that gives you a continued relationship with your kids and financial security.

How Does Adultery Affect a Divorce?

Traditionally, couples were able to divorce only in situations where one spouse did some harmful behavior that necessitated the end of the marriage. For example, a divorce could occur because of adultery, because of abuse, or because of abandonment. When divorce was sought on the grounds of adultery, the infidelity had to be proven in court. This could sometimes be difficult, not to mention embarrassing for couples whose must private business became public record.

Over time, states introduced no fault divorces, which allowed couples to end a marital union as a result of irreconcilable differences when both parties believe the marital relationship was irretrievably broken. No fault divorces became more and more common, and in most states they have now become the only type of divorce that occurs. In Arizona, for example, adultery is no longer grounds for divorce- couples simply state irreconcilable differences even if the real reason the marriage is ending is because of adultery.

There is, however, an exception to this general rule. As the Arizona Courts explain, there is a type of marriage in Arizona called a “covenant marriage.” Couples may voluntarily make the choice that a covenant marriage is right for them. To enter into a covenant marriage, couples have to undergo pre-marital counseling from a marriage counselor or from a member of the clergy. They also must sign a special statement or declaration of their intent to enter into a covenant marriage when applying for a marriage license. The statement indicates the couple understands marriage is for life, and is committed to taking all reasonable steps, including marriage counseling, to try to save the marriage if trouble arises.

If a couple has chosen to enter into a covenant marriage, they cannot get a typical no fault divorce. Instead, they will be granted a divorce only based on specific reasons listed in state law. One of those reasons is adultery. A covenant marriage can end if the spouse against whom the divorce case has been filed committed adultery. This means the person who was not the unfaithful spouse would need to file for divorce against the unfaithful spouse on the grounds of marital infidelity.

Other grounds for ending a covenant marriage include the commission of a serious crime resulting in a sentence of death or imprisonment; abandonment for at least one year before the divorce petition; physical or sexual abuse; drug and alcohol abuse; a separation for a designated period of time; or agreement by both spouses.

Outside of covenant marriages, adultery is not a relevant issue in a divorce- and it is not going to be considered in making a determination on whether alimony should be paid.

A Divorce Lawyer Can Help When a Marriage Ends Due to Adultery

The end of a marriage as a result of infidelity can be an emotionally difficult experience. The last thing you need is to be forced to cope with complex legal issues as you begin the process of moving forward with the close of one chapter of your life and the beginning of another chapter.

The compassionate and experienced legal team at Singer Pistiner, P.C. can take care of the legal issues for you. When you need a divorce lawyer who can negotiate a settlement with your spouse’s attorney or who is ready to litigate on the issues relevant to your divorce, we are here to help. Download our Free Divorce Guide, give us a call at (480) 418-7011 or contact us online if you live in Scottsdale or surrounding areas and your marriage is coming to an end.

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