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Tag: adultery

If your life partner has a low IQ, is divorce an option?

Yes, but not for the reason you may think.

In the age of no-fault divorce, you don’t really need to persuade the court to grant you a divorce. Divorce is essentially available on demand. Your spouse’s IQ need not have anything to do with it.

Some people think “no-fault divorce” means that “you can’t divorce me if I’m not at fault.” Not true.

No-fault divorce means that if you want to get a divorce, you don’t have to prove, as the reason for seeking a divorce, that your spouse has committed some kind of fault entitling you to a divorce. All you have to do is claim that there are “irreconcilable differences” between you and your spouse that have caused an irreparable breakdown in the marriage.

Before no-fault divorce was made the law in every state in the United States of America, one could not obtain a divorce unless his/her spouse had committed a “marital fault”. What constitutes marital fault? Each state has its own list, but generally speaking, marital fault includes:

  • adultery
  • impotency of the respondent at the time of marriage
  • cruelty
  • abandonment, desertion, neglect (failure of the spouse to provide necessary financial/temporal support)
  • insanity or severe mental illness
  • certain criminal convictions (usually a felony or those resulting in long-term imprisonment)
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • contracting a “loathsome disease” (i.e., a sexually transmitted disease)

With no-fault divorce the law now, fault on the part of your need not exist to qualify you to file for divorce

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/If-your-life-partner-has-a-low-IQ-is-divorce-an-option/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Nix v. Nix – 2022 UT App 83- insufficient evidence of adultery

2022 UT App 83

THE UTAH COURT OF APPEALS

JILL NIX,

Appellee,

v.

ROLAND COMPTON NIX JR.,

Appellant.

Opinion

No. 20200691-CA

Filed June 30, 2022

Fourth District Court, Provo Department

The Honorable Darold J. McDade

No. 174402122

Seth D. Needs, Attorney for Appellant

D. Grant Dickinson, Attorney for Appellee

JUDGE RYAN D. TENNEY authored this Opinion, in which JUDGES MICHELE M. CHRISTIANSEN FORSTER and JILL M. POHLMAN concurred.

TENNEY, Judge:

¶1        Under the Utah Code, there are ten “[g]rounds for divorce,” one of which is “adultery committed by the respondent subsequent to marriage.” Utah Code Ann. § 30-3-1(3)(b) (LexisNexis 2019). Interpreting this provision, our supreme court has held that evidence of adultery “subsequent to the filing of a divorce complaint is inadmissible for the purpose of establishing grounds for divorce,” though it can be “admissible as lending weight to and corroborating testimony as to prior acts” of infidelity. Vrontikis v. Vrontikis, 358 P.2d 632, 632 (Utah 1961).

¶2        When Jill Nix filed for divorce from Roland Nix Jr., she alleged “adultery committed by Roland during the marriage” as one of “the grounds for dissolution of this marriage.” During his subsequent deposition, Roland declined to answer a question from Jill’s attorney about whether he’d had extramarital sexual relations “since the marriage.” The district court later concluded that this non-response constituted an adoptive admission that Roland had committed adultery before Jill filed for divorce. Based on this conclusion, the court awarded Jill a divorce on the ground of adultery.

¶3        Roland now appeals that decision. As explained below, we agree that Roland’s non-response did not provide sufficient evidence to establish that Roland committed adultery before Jill filed her divorce petition. We accordingly reverse.

BACKGROUND[1]

¶4        Jill filed for divorce from Roland in August 2017. In her petition, Jill asserted two “grounds for dissolution of [the] marriage,” one of which was “adultery committed by Roland during the marriage.” Jill also asserted cruelty as an alternative ground for divorce. But that alternative ground was not further litigated below, the district court never ruled on it, and neither party has raised any issue about it on appeal.

¶5        In his answer, Roland “denie[d]” Jill’s “[g]rounds.” But Roland did not want the marriage to continue, so he counter-petitioned for divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences.

¶6        Roland was later deposed. During his deposition, the following exchange occurred between Jill’s counsel, Roland, and Roland’s counsel:

[Jill’s counsel:] Have you had any sexual relations with someone other than Jill since the marriage?

[Roland:] It is none of your business.

[Jill’s counsel:] Counsel I am entitled to know.

[Roland’s counsel:] I question the relevance. I don’t think that adultery or anything has been alleged in the pleadings.

. . . .

[Roland:] We are separated and that is none of their business.

. . . . [brief break taken by the parties]

[Jill’s counsel:] We left on the question of adultery. Mr. Nix what is your response?

After another objection and then more discussion between counsel, Roland made a somewhat vague reference to a woman with whom he’d apparently had some type of relationship. A short time later, Roland was asked, “And have you engaged in sexual relations with this person?” Roland answered, “Yes.”

¶7        Roland and Jill eventually settled most aspects of their divorce. But when they weren’t able to agree on the ground for divorce, Jill’s counsel requested a trial on that issue. At a scheduling conference, however, the parties and the court agreed on an alternative procedure under which the parties would submit memoranda about the ground for divorce, after which the court would hear oral argument on the matter.

¶8        In her memorandum, Jill pointed to Roland’s non-response to the deposition question of whether he’d “had any sexual relations with someone other than Jill since the marriage.” From this, Jill asked the court to draw “an adverse inference” that Roland had “committed adultery subsequent to the marriage.” In addition, Jill pointed to Roland’s express admission that he’d “engaged in sexual relations with this person.”

¶9        In his responsive memorandum, Roland asked the court to deny Jill’s request for an adultery-based divorce. Roland asserted that under Vrontikis v. Vrontikis, 358 P.2d 632 (Utah 1961), any adultery that he had committed after Jill filed for divorce could not constitute a ground for divorce. And Roland then argued that Jill had offered no evidence that he had “committed adultery prior to her filing for divorce.”

¶10      After briefing and then a hearing, the district court issued a written decision. There, the court agreed that under Vrontikis, “adulterous conduct subsequent to a divorce petition does not constitute fault,” but that “evidence of such conduct can be used to lend weight” to other evidence that the party had “committed adultery prior to the divorce petition.” (Emphases omitted.) The court then concluded that although Roland had expressly admitted to adultery in his deposition, this express admission had only been to “adultery subsequent to the divorce petition, but prior to divorce finalization.”[2]

¶11 Given its understanding of Vrontikis, the court next considered whether there was any evidence of pre-filing adultery. The court concluded that there was. In the court’s view, Roland’s non-response to the deposition question about whether he’d had sexual relations “since the marriage” qualified as an adoptive admission under rule 801(d)(2)(B) of the Utah Rules of Evidence. Notably, the court not only regarded this as proof “that Roland did commit adultery,” but also as proof “that Roland’s adultery caused the divorce,” i.e., proof that the adultery happened pre-filing. Thus, the court concluded that even if “Roland’s express admission [was] not, stand[ing] alone, a grounds for fault, the adoptive admission satisfie[d] Jill’s burden to show that Roland’s adultery caused the divorce.” Based on this, the court later “awarded Jill a decree of divorce on the grounds of adultery.”

¶12 Roland subsequently filed a motion under rule 59 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure “for [a] new trial or for an alteration of judgment on the issue of grounds for divorce.” Roland challenged the district court’s ruling on several fronts, including procedural fairness, incorrect application of the adoptive admission standard, and insufficiency of the evidence. After Jill opposed the motion, the court denied it. Roland timely appealed.

ISSUE AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶13      Roland challenges the district court’s denial of his rule 59 motion. As he did below, Roland assails this ruling for several reasons. We need address only one of them: Roland’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support the court’s determination that he committed adultery before Jill filed for divorce.

¶14      A district court ordinarily has “some discretion in deciding whether or not to grant a new trial.” Hansen v. Stewart, 761 P.2d 14, 17 (Utah 1988). But because Roland’s “challenge rests on a claim of insufficiency of the evidence, we will reverse only if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party, the evidence is insufficient to support the verdict.” In re Estate of Anderson, 2016 UT App 179, ¶ 7, 381 P.3d 1179 (quotation simplified); accord Hansen, 761 P.2d at 17.

ANALYSIS

¶15      The district court determined that Roland had committed adultery before Jill filed for divorce. It based this determination on Roland’s non-response to a question about this subject in his deposition, which the court regarded as an adoptive admission of pre-filing adultery.

¶16      On appeal, Roland first argues that the district court erred in concluding that his non-response qualified as an adoptive admission. But we need not decide whether this was so. Even assuming for the sake of argument that the non-response did qualify as an adoptive admission, the court was still required to point to some evidence that Roland had committed adultery before Jill filed for divorce. See Vrontikis v. Vrontikis, 358 P.2d 632, 632 (Utah 1961) (holding that evidence of adultery “subsequent to the filing of a divorce complaint is inadmissible for the purpose of establishing grounds for divorce,” though it can be “admissible as lending weight to and corroborating testimony as to prior acts” of infidelity).

¶17      Roland argues that there was no such evidence. Of note, Roland points out that, in the deposition exchange at issue, he “was never specifically asked whether he had had sexual relations with someone other than Jill since the marriage, but prior to the filing of the petition for divorce.” Having reviewed the portion of the deposition that is in the record, we agree. While Jill’s counsel asked Roland whether he had engaged in extramarital sexual relations, Jill’s counsel never asked Roland when he had done so. As a result, with respect to the critical issue of timing, the question and non-answer that supported the court’s adoptive-admission determination were silent.

¶18 Jill nevertheless points to Roland’s express admission of adultery. But on this, the district court only found that Roland had expressly admitted to postfiling adultery, and Jill has not challenged the court’s temporal limitation of its own finding on appeal. In any event, we’ve reviewed the exchange ourselves. We see nothing in it in which Roland said that his extramarital conduct was limited to post-filing behavior, but we also see nothing in it in which he admitted to any pre-filing conduct. Instead, as with the (alleged) adoptive admission, the timing of Roland’s behavior simply never came up.

¶19      This same defect exists with respect to the small amount of other evidence that Jill provided below to inferentially support her claims about Roland’s adultery. For example, Jill provided the court with a check that Roland had given her for alimony. This check was embossed with a picture of Roland and another woman, and in the identification block in the upper corner, it identified the other woman’s last name as “Nix.” Even accepting Jill’s contention that this could inferentially show that there was a sexual relationship between Roland and the other woman, what matters here is that the check was dated September 2019—which was after Jill had filed for divorce.

¶20      This leaves us with Jill’s final argument, which is to rely heavily on the favorable standard of review. Because Roland challenges the district court’s ruling on sufficiency grounds, we’re required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the district court’s determination. But Roland’s argument presents us with a “no evidence” challenge—i.e., he argues that “even with the evidence in the record, nothing would demonstrate that . . . Roland committed adultery prior to the filing of the Petition for Divorce.” And to defeat such a claim, Jill “need only point to a scintilla of credible evidence from the record that supports the finding of fact in order to overcome [Roland’s] ‘no evidence’ assertion.” Wilson Supply, Inc. v. Fraden Mfg. Corp., 2002 UT 94, ¶ 22, 54 P.3d 1177.

¶21 She hasn’t. Even on such a review, there must be some evidence to support the determination in question. As we have explained in another context, a “reviewing court will stretch the evidentiary fabric as far as it will go,” but “this does not mean that the court can take a speculative leap across a remaining gap in order to sustain a verdict.” State v. Pullman, 2013 UT App 168, ¶ 14, 306 P.3d 827 (quotation simplified). Here, the evidence demonstrates that Roland engaged in sexual activity with another woman before his divorce was finalized. After all, he expressly admitted as much. But Vrontikis requires evidence of adultery at a particular time—namely, before the petitioner filed for divorce. Jill points to no evidence, and we see none, that even inferentially says anything about when Roland engaged in extramarital sexual activity. Without such evidence, the district court’s finding that Roland had engaged in pre-filing extramarital sexual relations cannot stand. We accordingly reverse for insufficient evidence.[3]

CONCLUSION

¶22 There was insufficient evidence to support the district court’s determination that Roland committed adultery before Jill filed for divorce. We accordingly reverse that decision and remand this case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.[4]


[1] Because the parties share the same last name, we’ll follow our normal practice and refer to them by their first names, with no disrespect intended by the apparent informality. Also, for purposes of consistency and readability, we’ll use the parties’ first names (and corresponding pronouns) when quoting references to them from the record or the briefing, and we’ll do so without using brackets to note any such alterations.

[2] We note that Roland did not actually draw this chronological line in the portion of the deposition in which he made his express admission. But neither party has challenged the court’s determination that the express admission was only to post-filing adulterous conduct.

[3] Our determination leaves a potential wrinkle about what should happen next. At the close of his brief, Roland asks us to not only reverse on insufficiency grounds, but also to “alter the Ruling” ourselves to grant him a divorce on “the grounds of irreconcilable differences.” Roland provides us with no authority that establishes our ability to modify an order in this manner, however, so this request is inadequately briefed. Moreover, Jill petitioned for divorce on an alternative ground, but neither party on appeal has competently briefed the question of whether Jill would be entitled to continue litigating that ground if we reverse the district court’s adultery-based decree. Without such briefing, we decline to decide the question in the first instance.

[4] Jill has asked for her attorney fees on appeal. See Utah R. App. P. 24(a)(9). Because she is not the prevailing party in this appeal, we deny her request.

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How do I best explain to my daughters that I am divorcing their stepmom?

What is the best way for me to explain to my 3 daughters that the reason in which I am divorcing their Assistant Prosecutor stepmother is because I wouldn’t let her legally adopt them and that I had an affair with one of her former friend’s?

I realize that there may be more to your question and its context than the question itself may indicate. I realize you may or may not be the only one to blame for the deterioration of your marriage. 

Do right by both your children and your wife. Resist the temptation to “correct” one mistake by making others in an effort to cover for past wrongs you have committed. 

I’d speak with a good (a good) psychologist or qualified counselor to help me confront how and why I came to this point and how my family did. I’d seek some help to understand what I should do going forward and why I should do so, how I should and can take responsibility for my actions in the past and for the future. 

I’d speak with a good (a good) child psychologist to gain an understanding of how to break this kind of news to your children and how to discuss any questions your children may have. 

I’d speak with my pastor or priest (or whoever your religious leader may be) to get some guidance as well. 

I’d be sure to be honest with my children, in a way that is sensitive to their age and maturity and needs. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-way-for-me-to-explain-to-my-3-daughters-that-the-reason-in-which-I-am-divorcing-their-Assistant-Prosecutor-stepmother-is-because-I-wouldn-t-let-her-legally-adopt-them-and-that-I-had-an-affair-with/answer/Eric-Johnson-311  

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Do courts make awards in divorce to “punish” adultery?

Do courts make awards in divorce to “punish” adultery? Great question.  

Adultery is considered a fault-based ground for divorce and a factor that can be considered when the trial court decides matters of alimony, property division, and child custody.  

I will answer this question according to what Utah statutory and case law provides.  

Utah Code § 30-3-5(9)(b) provides, “The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining whether to award alimony and the terms of the alimony.”  

Utah Code § 30-3-5(9)(c) states that “‘Fault’ includes engaging in sexual relations with an individual other than the party’s spouse, if such wrongful conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship.  

Most recently, the Utah Supreme Court discussed this very question in the divorce case of Gardner v. Gardner (Volume 425 Pacific Reporter 3rd, page 1134, decided in 2019. In that decision the Supreme Court stated: 

[C]ourts should keep in mind that the ultimate purpose of any property division or alimony award is to “achieve a fair, just, and equitable result between the parties.” For this reason, courts should consider fault only in an attempt to balance the equities between the parties. In other words, where one party’s fault has harmed the other party, the court may attempt to re-balance the equities by adjusting the alimony award in favor of the party who was harmed by that fault.[footnote 56] 

Footnote 56 states: 

We note that some Utah courts have struggled to articulate an appropriate role of fault in alimony determinations in light of our case law suggesting that the purpose of alimony is not to punish. See Mark v. Mark, 2009 UT App 374, ¶ 17, 223 P.3d 476 (“[I]f a trial court uses its broad statutory discretion to consider fault in fashioning an alimony award and then, taking that fault into consideration, adjusts the alimony award upward or downward, it simply cannot be said that fault was not used to punish or reward either spouse by altering the award as a consequence of fault.”). But other Utah courts have concluded that fault may be considered without constituting punishment if it is used only to rectify the inequity caused by the fault. See Christiansen v. Christiansen, 2003 UT App 348, 2003 WL 22361312 at *2 (“Fault may correctly be considered by the trial court without penalizing the party found to be at fault.”); see also [Wilson v. Wilson, 5 Utah 2d 79, 296 P.2d 977, 979 (1956)], 296 P.2d at 980 (explaining that equitable factors often cause courts to impose permanent alimony on “erring” spouses); [Riley v. Riley, 138 P.3d 84 (Utah Ct. App. 2006)], 2006 UT App 214, ¶ 24, 138 P.3d 84 (affirming the district court’s consideration of a husband’s fault as an important “factor in fairness to [Wife]” (alteration in original)). As this latter line of cases suggests, fault may be considered as long as it is used as a basis to prevent or rectify an inequity to the not-at-fault spouse. So in reviewing an alimony determination involving fault, Utah appellate courts should focus on whether a fault-based modification of an alimony award helped “achieve a fair, just, and equitable result between the parties” rather than on whether it was punitive in nature. [Dahl v. Dahl, 2015 UT 79, ¶ 168, ––– P.3d ––––], 2015 UT 79, ¶ 25, ––– P.3d –––– (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). 

With this in mind, could a court (a court, not all courts) award more alimony, divide marital property unevenly, or restrict custody or parent-time due to one of the spouse’s adultery to punish adultery? Yes, of course, even if the court went to great pains (sincerely or not) to articulate the alimony decision as not being punitive in nature.  

Some judges (some, not all) allow their personal antipathy for an adulterous spouse their impartiality and justify disregarding the law in favor of doing what the judge “feels is right” instead. And yes, it can happen to you. 

Bottom line: If you are in adulterer, and a serial and/or un repentant adulterer at that, it should come as no surprise to you that your adultery will do you no favors when it comes to the way the court can and may treat you in a divorce action. Fair or not, that is the nature of the way many people (and judges are people) view and treat adulterers. Does this mean that if you are in adulterer you should expect to be treated unfairly by a court? I think your odds are about 50-50, in my professional opinion. Do those odds mean that you should lie about adultery, if you believe you can get away with it? No, and for two reasons: 1) it is wrong to lie; and 2) if you commit adultery, then compound the problem by lying about it and get caught, you only increase your odds of being mistreated by the court. And odds are that if you lie about adultery you will be caught. 

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277  

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I suspect my husband fathered a child with someone else. Can I challenge our divorce ruling?

If I suspect my ex-husband fathered a child with someone else while we were married, can I challenge our divorce ruling?

If, by this question, you mean that

  1. you are the wife; and
  2. you discovered, after you divorced, that your husband had fathered a child during the marriage, but this fact was not known or adjudicated during the divorce proceedings,

it is unlikely that raising the discovery of the bastard/illegitimate (whatever term you want to use to describe the innocent) child would benefit you as the wife, if you tried to assert the discovery of this child as the basis for “challenging” or modifying the terms of the decree of divorce. Why? Because unless you could show that the discovery of this child has led to the discovery that the terms of your decree of divorce are unfair to you and would have been different had the court been aware of and taken the child’s existence into consideration when entering the orders that comprise your decree of divorce, discovery of the child may be irrelevant.

However, it may be worth your while to raise the discovery of this child with the divorce court, if for no other reason than to protect yourself from being deemed the child’s mother, given that the child was born, or at least conceived, during your marriage because it is possible for your husband to claim that the child is now your legal responsibility.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/If-I-suspect-my-ex-husband-fathered-a-child-with-someone-else-while-we-were-married-can-I-challenge-our-divorce-ruling?__nsrc__=4

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What happens after an affair when you have kids?

What happens after an affair when you have kids? I will answer as if this question were asked in the belief that the affair will have a profound effect upon child custody, child support, and/or alimony.

If you have had an extramarital affair, it generally will not do your divorce case any favors, will not win you any sympathizers.

But will it generally result in you being “punished” by the divorce court? The answer to that question is, in my experience as a divorce lawyer: probably not (unless your affair could be shown to have done your spouse and kids egregious financial, physical, or emotional harm) and/or you were a serial, unrepentant adulterer/adulteress).

Child custody: in the jurisdiction where I practice divorce law (Utah), it has been my experience that extramarital affairs are rarely seen as rendering a parent “unfit” to exercise sole or joint custody of his/her children.

While the court is required to consider “the past conduct and demonstrated moral character of the parent” (Utah Code § 30-3-10(2)(d)) in making its child custody evaluation and award, usually the court will reason that an adulterous parent is not inherently any worse as a parent than one who is not.

If the affair cause the parent to spend excessive time away from the children, caused the parent to neglect the children, or if the children’s knowledge of the affair caused the children serious psychological or emotional harm and/or the children distrust or hate a parent because of the affair, then it’s not really the affair that is the problem itself, but the effects of the extramarital affair.

Child support: I have never seen an extramarital affair cited as a reason for awarding more or less child support had the child support payor not committed adultery.

Alimony: in Utah (where I practice divorce law), adultery can affect the alimony award, but will not automatically have an effect on the alimony award. Here is what Utah Code § 30-3-5(9)(c)) provides:

“The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining whether to award alimony and the terms of the alimony” and “”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 an individual other than the party’s spouse[.]”

What does this mean?

The Utah Supreme Court construed that section of the Utah Code in the case of Gardner v. Gardner (2019 UT 61, 452 P.3d 1134 (Supreme Court of Utah 2019)): “Substantially contributed” to the breakup of the marriage is conduct that was a significant or an important cause of the divorce. Under this definition, conduct need not be the sole, or even the most important, cause for it to substantially contribute to a divorce.

So, when an important or significant cause falls into a category of conduct specifically identified in section 30-3-5(8), courts are authorized to consider it in an alimony determination, even if the at-fault party can point to other potential causes of the divorce. And this: “Under the plain language of section 30-3-5(8), courts have discretion to depart from the default economic rules where one party’s fault makes it appropriate to do so. Because the district court determined that Ms. Gardner’s conduct qualified as fault under the statute, the court was authorized to depart from the default alimony rules by reducing Ms. Gardner’s alimony award by some amount.”

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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Would you divorce your spouse if he/she had a child before marriage without telling you?

Would you divorce your husband if he had a child with his last relationship without telling you?

I do not believe that this would, alone, be reason to divorce your husband. He may be a good man who was a scared, confused kid back when he kept this from you. He may have matured since then. He may just have not known how to level with you (or perhaps wondered—albeit wrongly—whether he should). If he has come to regret keeping you in the dark, if you believe that, and if he has come clean and promised that there are no other skeletons in his closet, he may be a better man for it. It may well be that he is “worth” forgiving and not worth breaking up a marriage/family over it.

If discovering his illegitimate child is just the latest in a series of embarrassing/concerning facts that further reveal and confirm him as a) someone you did not believe him to be and b) as someone who cannot be trusted to deal with you honestly, then this latest disclosure may the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back. You may be more than justified in divorcing him; not because he has a child, but because he keeps secrets from you, because you simply cannot take further risks of being deceived such that you and/or your family will be victimized as a result.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Would-you-divorce-your-husband-if-he-had-a-child-with-his-last-relationship-without-telling-you/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

 

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Are irreconcilable differences the same as an at-fault divorce?

No.

There are two kind of grounds for divorce: fault and no-fault. Irreconcilable differences are an example of no-fault grounds for divorce.

Before no-fault divorce laws were passed (and every state in the United States of America now allows divorce on a no-fault basis), a husband or wife could not obtain a divorce unless he/she could prove that his or her spouse had committed marital fault.

No, really. I’m not kidding. It got to the point that spouses we didn’t have fault-based grounds for divorce, but wanted a divorce nevertheless, would collude with each other and perjure themselves to commit fraud on the court: the husband or would would agree to claim, falsely that he/she committed adultery (or some other fault), and the other spouse would go along with the sham. Together they would represent to the court that a divorce was warranted on the basis of adultery that never took place, simply so they could get divorce from one another. lawmakers, realizing that this was happening, and realizing that there were many people in need of a divorce who could not qualify under existing laws, responded with the passage of no-fault divorce laws.

Fault-based grounds for divorce are those that allege that your spouse has committed one or more kinds of wrongs that would entitle you to a divorce.

No-fault grounds are those that allege that you don’t need or want to allege that your spouse has done anything wrong such that you are entitled to a divorce; instead, alleging no-fault grounds means that you just want out of the marriage, without having to blame your spouse as an excuse for getting divorced.

Fault-based grounds for divorce can vary from state to state, but generally the “marital faults” that qualify include:

  • impotency of the respondent at the time of marriage;
  • adultery committed by the respondent subsequent to marriage;
  • willful desertion of the petitioner by the respondent for more than one year;
  • willful neglect of the respondent to provide for the petitioner the common necessaries of life;
  • habitual drunkenness of the respondent;
  • conviction of the respondent for a felony;
  • cruel treatment of the petitioner by the respondent to the extent of causing bodily injury or great mental distress to the petitioner;
  • incurable insanity; or
  • when the husband and wife have lived separately under a decree of separate maintenance of any state for three consecutive years without cohabitation.

See Utah Code § 30-3-1(3)

Other historical fault-based grounds for divorce include:

  • existence of a loathsome disease concealed from the other spouse at the time of marriage were contracted afterwards
  • substance abuse other than and/or in addition to alcohol abuse
  • bigamy
  • impotence
  • force or fraud
  • mental illness
  • carnal abandonment (refusing to have a reasonable amount of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse)
  • infertility (particularly if your infertility was known and you concealed the fact before marriage)
  • sexual orientation ( g., you are heterosexual and you discover that your spouse is homosexual)
  • changing religions after marriage or abandoning one’s religious faith after marriage

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Are-irreconcilable-differences-the-same-as-an-at-fault-divorce/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Do most marriages end in divorce because of infidelity or money issues?

I think infidelity, IF you define infidelity broadly, meaning not simply adultery but a general lack of commitment to one another. Lack of devotion, care, and consideration for your spouse leads to indifference, then apathy, and eventually, contempt.

Finances can and do put a strain on a marriage, whether that be too little money or too much money, but any couple can survive financial strains if they are committed to each other.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Do-most-marriages-end-in-divorce-because-of-infidelity-or-money-issues/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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If someone has an affair with one he/she knows is married, which offense is greater: the adulterer or the home wrecker?

If someone buys kiddie porn from one who is selling it, who is the worse of the two? Neither. They are both criminals. Two people who knowingly engage in an adulterous affair are both equally wrongdoers.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/If-a-spouse-has-an-affair-with-someone-that-knows-they-are-married-who-has-made-the-greater-offense-to-the-marriage-the-adulterer-or-the-homewrecker/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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If my spouse cheats, and we divorce will I get custody of my children?

In response to the question, “If my spouse cheats, and we divorce, will I get custody of the children because of my spouse’s infidelity?,” the answer is unequivocally “no.” No state in the United States awards custody to the cheated-on parent, if the other parent has committed adultery.

And in my opinion (and while I see adultery as harmful to marriages and families), adultery has very little impact on the child custody award analysis. Unless one can connect a parent’s adultery to some deleterious effect on the children, it is hard to claim that adultery makes a parent unfit to exercise legal or physical custody of his/her children.

In response to the question, “How much does divorce typically cost?,” the answer is, according to LegalZoom (and I don’t know how reliable this claim is) between 15,000 and $30,000, depending upon what state you live in and its costs of living and depending upon the complexity and difficulty of a particular case. Some cases are resolved by a quick settlement for just a few hundred dollars, and some divorces cost millions of dollars before they are done.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/If-my-spouse-cheats-and-we-divorce-is-it-true-that-I-ll-get-custody-of-my-children-How-much-does-divorce-typically-cost/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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What are some of the major causes behind a divorce?

Lack of commitment/incompatibility.

“Marriage is a counter-cultural act in a throwaway society.”

—Dr. William H. Doherty, noted marriage scholar and therapist

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-the-major-causes-behind-a-divorce/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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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 | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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Is having an affair a misdemeanor or a felony in Utah?

In the jurisdiction where I practice (Utah), the law is:

Utah

76-7-103. Adultery.

(1) A married person commits adultery when he voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than his spouse.

(2) Adultery is a class B misdemeanor.

There are few states, however, where adultery is a felony. And here is all you need to verify:

Idaho

Idaho Statutes, Title 18, Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 66, Title 18, Section 6601

18-6601. ADULTERY. A married man who has sexual intercourse with a woman not his wife, an unmarried man who has sexual intercourse with a married woman, a married woman who has sexual intercourse with a man not her husband, and an unmarried woman who has sexual intercourse with a married man, shall be guilty of adultery, and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than three months, or by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for a period not exceeding three years, or in the county jail for a period not exceeding one year, or by fine not exceeding $1000.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts general laws Title I, Chapter 272, Section 14:

A married person who has sexual intercourse with a person not his spouse or an unmarried person who has sexual intercourse with a married person shall be guilty of adultery and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years or in jail for not more than two years or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars.

Because adultery is a crime can lead to a prison sentence of up to three years it is a felony.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Statutes, Title 21. Crimes and Punishments §21-871. Adultery defined – Who may institute prosecution.

Adultery is the unlawful voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one of the opposite sex; and when the crime is between persons, only one of whom is married, both are guilty of adultery. Prosecution for adultery can be commenced and carried on against either of the parties to the crime only by his or her own husband or wife as the case may be, or by the husband or wife of the other party to the crime: Provided, that any person may make complaint when persons are living together in open and notorious adultery.

Oklahoma law provides that adultery offenders face felony charges, punishable by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for up to five years or a fine up to $500 or both:

Oklahoma Statutes, Title 21. Crimes and Punishments §21-872. Punishment for adultery.

Any person guilty of the crime of adultery shall be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not exceeding five (5) years or by a fine not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Oklahoma Statutes :: Title 43. Marriage and Family :: §43-123. Remarriage and cohabitation – Appeal from judgment.:

It is also unlawful for a divorced party to remarry again in Oklahoma within six months of the decree of divorce.

Unlawful to Marry Within 6 Months from Date of Divorce Decree:

Oklahoma Statutes, Title 43. Marriage, Divorce and Alimony, Section 123 – Unlawful to Marry Within 6 Months from Date of Divorce Decree – Penalty for Remarriage and Cohabitation-Appeal

It shall be unlawful for either party to an action for divorce whose former husband or wife is living to marry in this state a person other than the divorced spouse within six (6) months from date of decree of divorce granted in this state, or to cohabit with such other person in this state during said period if the marriage took place in another state; and if an appeal be commenced from said decree, it shall be unlawful for either party to such cause to marry any other person and cohabit with such person in this state until the expiration of thirty (30) days from the date on which final judgment shall be rendered pursuant to such appeal. Any person violating the provisions of this section by such marriage shall be deemed guilty of the felony of bigamy. Any person violating the provisions of this section by such cohabitation shall be deemed guilty of the felony of adultery.

An appeal from a judgment granting or denying a divorce shall be made in the same manner as in any other civil case.

Michigan

Michigan Penal Code, Act 328 of 1931, 750.30 Adultery; punishment. Sec. 30.

Punishment—Any person who shall commit adultery shall be guilty of a felony; and when the crime is committed between a married woman and a man who is unmarried, the man shall be guilty of adultery, and liable to the same punishment.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Statutes

944.16  Adultery. Whoever does either of the following is guilty of a Class I felony:

(1) A married person who has sexual intercourse with a person not the married person’s spouse; or

(2) A person who has sexual intercourse with a person who is married to another.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Is-having-an-affair-a-misdemeanor-or-a-felony-or-does-it-depend-on-the-State/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Is adultery a misdemeanor or a felony, or does it depend on the State?

In the jurisdiction where I practice (Utah), the law is:

76-7-103. Adultery.

(1) A married person commits adultery when he voluntarily has sexual intercourse with a person other than his spouse.

(2) Adultery is a class B misdemeanor.

There are few states, however, where adultery is a felony. And here is all you need to verify:

Idaho Statutes, Title 18, Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 66, Title 18, Section 6601

18-6601. ADULTERY. A married man who has sexual intercourse with a woman not his wife, an unmarried man who has sexual intercourse with a married woman, a married woman who has sexual intercourse with a man not her husband, and an unmarried woman who has sexual intercourse with a married man, shall be guilty of adultery, and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than three months, or by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for a period not exceeding three years, or in the county jail for a period not exceeding one year, or by fine not exceeding $1000.

Massachusetts general laws Title I, Chapter 272, Section 14:

A married person who has sexual intercourse with a person not his spouse or an unmarried person who has sexual intercourse with a married person shall be guilty of adultery and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than three years or in jail for not more than two years or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars.

Because adultery is a crime can lead to a prison sentence of up to three years it is a felony.

Oklahoma Statutes, Title 21. Crimes and Punishments §21-871. Adultery defined – Who may institute prosecution.

Adultery is the unlawful voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one of the opposite sex; and when the crime is between persons, only one of whom is married, both are guilty of adultery. Prosecution for adultery can be commenced and carried on against either of the parties to the crime only by his or her own husband or wife as the case may be, or by the husband or wife of the other party to the crime: Provided, that any person may make complaint when persons are living together in open and notorious adultery.

Oklahoma law provides that adultery offenders face felony charges, punishable by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for up to five years or a fine up to $500 or both:

Oklahoma Statutes, Title 21. Crimes and Punishments §21-872. Punishment for adultery.

Any person guilty of the crime of adultery shall be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not exceeding five (5) years or by a fine not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Oklahoma Statutes :: Title 43. Marriage and Family :: §43-123. Remarriage and cohabitation – Appeal from judgment.:

It is also unlawful for a divorced party to remarry again in Oklahoma within six months of the decree of divorce.

Unlawful to Marry Within 6 Months from Date of Divorce Decree:

Oklahoma Statutes, Title 43. Marriage, Divorce and Alimony, Section 123 – Unlawful to Marry Within 6 Months from Date of Divorce Decree – Penalty for Remarriage and Cohabitation-Appeal

It shall be unlawful for either party to an action for divorce whose former husband or wife is living to marry in this state a person other than the divorced spouse within six (6) months from date of decree of divorce granted in this state, or to cohabit with such other person in this state during said period if the marriage took place in another state; and if an appeal be commenced from said decree, it shall be unlawful for either party to such cause to marry any other person and cohabit with such person in this state until the expiration of thirty (30) days from the date on which final judgment shall be rendered pursuant to such appeal. Any person violating the provisions of this section by such marriage shall be deemed guilty of the felony of bigamy. Any person violating the provisions of this section by such cohabitation shall be deemed guilty of the felony of adultery.

An appeal from a judgment granting or denying a divorce shall be made in the same manner as in any other civil case.

Michigan Penal Code, Act 328 of 1931, 750.30 Adultery; punishment. Sec. 30.

Punishment—Any person who shall commit adultery shall be guilty of a felony; and when the crime is committed between a married woman and a man who is unmarried, the man shall be guilty of adultery, and liable to the same punishment.

Wisconsin Statutes

944.16  Adultery. Whoever does either of the following is guilty of a Class I felony:

(1) A married person who has sexual intercourse with a person not the married person’s spouse; or

(2) A person who has sexual intercourse with a person who is married to another.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Is-having-an-affair-a-misdemeanor-or-a-felony-or-does-it-depend-on-the-State/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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If somebody’s wife gets pregnant by another man will it be easy for the husband to gain custody of their children?

If somebody’s wife gets pregnant by another man will it be easy for the husband to gain custody of their children?

In my opinion, 9.5 times out of 10 the fact—standing alone—that the wife got pregnant in the course of an extramarital affair will have virtually no impact on which of the two spouses will get custody of the children of the marriage. So to answer your question: no, it will not be easy for the husband to gain custody of their children, if his wife gets pregnant by another man.

Why? Because the factors that affect the award of child custody do not place a great deal of importance on something like an extramarital affair. The factors that matter far, far more to a court are things like

Section 30–3–10 (Utah Code):

  • the past conduct and demonstrated moral standards of each of the parties;
  • which parent is most likely to act in the best interest of the child, including allowing the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent;
  • the extent of bonding between the parent and child, meaning the depth, quality, and nature of the relationship between a parent and child;
  • whether the parent has intentionally exposed the child to pornography or material harmful to a minor;
  • whether there has been domestic violence in the home or in the presence of the child;
  • special physical or mental needs of a parent or child;
  • physical distance between the residences of the parents.

Section 30-3-10.2 (Utah Code):

  • the physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development of the child;
  • the ability of each parent to give first priority to the welfare of the child;
  • whether each parent is capable of encouraging and accepting a positive relationship between the child and the other parent, including the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;
  • whether both parents participated in raising the child before the divorce;
  • the preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent preference as to legal or physical custody;
  • the maturity of the parents and their willingness and ability to protect the child from conflict that may arise between the parents.

Utah Code of Judicial Administration, Rule 4–903

  • parenting skills;
  • co-parenting skills (including, but not limited to, the ability to facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent, and to appropriately communicate with the other parent);
  • moral character;
  • emotional stability;
  • duration and depth of desire for custody and parent-time;
  • ability to provide personal rather than surrogate care;
  • significant impairment of ability to function as a parent through drug abuse, excessive drinking or other causes;
  • reasons for having relinquished custody or parent-time in the past;
  • religious compatibility with the child;
  • the child’s interaction and relationship with the child’s step-parent(s), extended family members, and/or any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest;
  • financial responsibility;
  • evidence of abuse of the subject child, another child, or spouse;
  • any history of, or potential for, child abuse, spouse abuse, or kidnaping; and
  • any other factors the court finds relevant.

As you can see, while moral character is one factor, it is clearly not the only factor, nor is it the most important factor in making a child custody award. To be sure, the court will take into account the wife’s moral failings and recklessness by her having engaged in an extramarital affair and getting pregnant, but this factor will not carry much weight in view of the other more pragmatic factors, such as parenting skills, bonding between parents and children, availability to care for children, what arrangement would be easiest on the kids and what custody arrangement will benefit them going forward, etc.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/If-somebody-s-wife-gets-pregnant-by-another-man-will-it-be-easy-for-the-husband-to-gain-custody-of-their-children/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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Can a wife expect a property to be split equally if she cheated?

Can a wife expect a property to be split between partners if she cheated on her partner in the US (assuming no contract has been signed)?

Yes.

People who are not divorce lawyers think that courts really hate and really punish infidelity and adultery by making lop-sided property and/or alimony divisions in divorce.

They do not.

Sure, you may hear of the occasional outlier judge who does, but they are the exception that proves the rule.

The purpose of dividing marital property is to ensure a fair division between both spouses. An equal division is presumptively fair. While some acts or omissions of a spouse can result in a less than or greater than equal division of property, those instances are rare and infidelity is usually not one of the acts that will result in an unequal division of marital property or determine whether one gets or pays alimony.

While in many jurisdictions (including Utah, where I practice divorce and family law) a court can consider infidelity in awarding alimony, the purpose of alimony is not to punish. Instead, the purpose of alimony is to prevent an ex-spouse from becoming a welfare charge on the state. Alimony is thus primarily based upon need and ability to pay. Infidelity may result in a slightly greater alimony award or perhaps an award of slightly longer duration, but it usually won’t result in the innocent spouse being awarded the couple’s entire house or the like.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

https://www.quora.com/Can-a-wife-expect-a-property-to-be-split-between-partners-if-she-cheated-on-her-partner-in-the-US-assuming-no-contract-has-been-signed/answer/Eric-Johnson-311

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