Utah de-criminalizes consensual adultery and sodomy

In Utah, it is no longer illegal for two consenting adults to engage in adultery or sodomy (and fornication may be de-criminalized too)

House Bill 40 (2019 Utah Legislative Session)

On March 25, 2019, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed House Bill 40, which decriminalized adultery and sodomy among consenting adults. Who would have known they were illegal in the first place? They are rarely, if ever, prosecuted.

Then there’s Senate Bill 43, which, among other things, would decriminalize fornication, but as of the date this blog is posted, it remains unsigned by the Governor.

What’s the difference between adultery and fornication, anyway?

Adultery vs. Fornication

Adultery, by definition, occurs when a married person voluntarily has sex with a person who is not his or her spouse.

Fornication, on the other hand, generally refers to an unmarried person having sex with a person to whom he/she is not married.

So, as odd as it may seem, as of today’s date, a person who cheats on his/her spouse can no longer be held criminally liable, whereas a person who has sex while unmarried, still can be.

Along with decriminalizing Adultery, House Bill 40 also decriminalizes Sodomy. Sodomy basically refers to oral and anal sex. Who knew this is illegal?

So, how does this pertain to Divorce and Family Law? Well, if adultery is no longer a crime, one could argue that it’s been weakened as a basis for divorce and as a basis for affecting an alimony award in divorce.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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