If some Utah state representatives get their way, it may become much more difficult for a divorcing spouse to be awarded alimony in court if he or she had an affair during the marriage. They have proposed a bill that would allow judges to decide whether infidelity was to blame for causing the divorce when considering an alimony request. Besides restricting spousal support, this bill could have implications about Utah’s no-fault divorce status if passed.
The proposed bill is titled Alimony Amendments. It would allow judges to make fault for the divorce a factor when weighing whether to grant alimony to one spouse. “Fault” is defined as “wrongful conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship.” Among the “wrongful conduct” specifically included in the bill is attempting or threatening physical harm to the spouse or their children and having an affair. An article about the bill suggests that the bill’s backers consider people who have an affair to have purposely sabotaged their marriage. For that spouse to then ask for alimony in the divorce is unfair, the lawmakers contend.
Like virtually every other state, Utah has no-fault divorce, which means that neither spouse has to provide a justification for the divorce as people had to do in previous centuries. If passed, this bill would seem to reintroduce the idea of fault into the divorce process. While it would not directly affect the ability to get divorced, it would present a principle into the process beyond whether spousal support is financially justified.
What do you think? Should cheaters in divorce be awarded alimony?
International Child Custody
The Supreme Court of the United States has started the process of determining which cases will be heard during the next term, slated to end in June 2013. This week, the high court agreed to hear a custody battle involving a father who is a United States citizen and a mother who is a citizen of Scotland.
Currently, the five-year-old girl lives in Scotland with her mother. The father, a U.S. army sergeant, has appealed a lower court ruling that led to the custody arrangement.
Since 2007, the mother and daughter lived together in Scotland. While the parents were married at the time, the father was unable to live with them due to his job responsibilities. Based on court records, both mother and daughter traveled to Alabama to visit the father and make an effort to salvage the marriage. The couple was unsuccessful, and the mother had to return to Scotland, as her visa had already expired. A state judge in Alabama granted custody of the child to the father. After the mother appealed, a U.S. district judge, referring to the “Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction,” ordered the daughter to be sent to Scotland, as he ruled it was her “habitual residence.”
Continuing the proceedings, the father filed an appeal, which the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed. The court reasoned that the issue could no longer be considered, as the child had already returned to Scotland.
The Supreme Court will have a number of issues to consider that are not typically seen in domestic custody disputes, including how it will enforce its decision as the child currently lives in Scotland.
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When you need legal help with child custody or divorce in Utah, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506 for your free consultation. We want to help you.
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