A marriage may end for a number of reasons, including abuse, addictions, or simply drifting apart. A particularly difficult reason is adultery. If you’re considering filing for divorce due to infidelity, it’s vital that you understand Arizona’s legal system.
An experienced divorce lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, can provide you with tips for dissolving your marriage under this circumstance. Learn more about this topic, including six tips for navigating divorce due to adultery, in this helpful guide.
Adultery and Arizona Law
Did you know that Arizona law lists adultery as a crime? Any married person who has sexual relations with anyone other than their spouse can face jail time for breaking this law. While crimes of infidelity rarely face prosecution, the person who committed adultery can face other legal implications, particularly surrounding divorce.
The state allows you to file for divorce either as a no-fault case or a fault-based one. A no-fault divorce means that neither spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. Filings that cite “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for divorce are considered no-fault cases.
A fault-based divorce places responsibility on one partner and cites their individual actions as the reason for the marriage’s breakdown. Common grounds for a fault-based divorce include the following situations:
- One spouse suffering from a mental illness for at least three years.
- One spouse abandoning their partner for more than a year.
- One person committing adultery.
- One partner suffering from an addiction for more than a year.
- One spouse committing and being convicted of a felony.
- One spouse being physically abusive toward their partner.
How Couples in Covenant Marriages Deal With Divorce
In general, Arizona serves as a no-fault state. Many couples who divorce can dissolve their marriage by citing irreconcilable differences and saying no one is to blame. However, couples who enter a covenant marriage can act differently and file a fault-based case if a partner commits adultery.
A covenant marriage serves the same purpose as any other legal union. Couples will still need to acquire a marriage license before they wed and submit it to the state. These marriages put more emphasis on the union being sacred and often see couples go through premarital counseling with a member of the clergy to prepare them for better or for worse.
Covenant marriages need a strong reason for dissolving, such as one partner being unfaithful to their spouse.
How Infidelity Can Impact Divorce Proceedings
Unlike a no-fault divorce, a case that stems from infidelity can have serious implications on each spouse, along with any children they may have. Keep the following outcomes in mind if you’re facing a divorce due to infidelity.
The Ruling of Spousal Support
Many divorce proceedings find one party seeking spousal support, also known as alimony. A court can rule that the person who earns the higher income must pay spousal support to their former partner each month. However, no party is ever entitled to receive payment, especially if they divorce on the grounds of infidelity.
Say your partner breaks up your marriage by having an affair. If you can prove their infidelity to the court, they can be barred from receiving alimony from you. Many Arizona residents don’t realize that committing adulterous acts can impact their finances following divorce because of this scenario.
Division of Marital Assets
Arizona courts practice the equitable distribution of marital assets. In other words, couples going through a divorce usually split their assets equally or in a way that is fair. Adultery within the marriage may cause a court to grant one spouse a great share of their marital assets.
This pertains to any asset that both partners acquired together during their marriage, including:
- Their primary or secondary homes
- Investment properties
- Bank accounts
- Stocks or bonds
All of these assets make up your marital estate. Committing adultery can impact how much of the estate you receive once the court finalizes your divorce.
Child Custody Arrangements, If Applicable
If you’re filing for a divorce due to infidelity from your partner, you should consider the implications it has on child custody rulings. Any children that you have with your spouse could become a key part of the proceedings. The court may rule against the cheating spouse if it finds that their infidelity negatively impacts the children.
One could argue that the cheating spouse no longer spends as much time with their children because of their affair. Another example is claiming that a child’s behavior is different because of their exposure to a parent’s affair.
Because of this, you could receive sole custody of your children if your spouse is deemed unfit to parent. Another possible scenario could be that an adulterous parent may need to pay for their co-parent’s legal fees if they have an affair while the child custody case is happening.
Six Tips for Navigating Divorce Due to Infidelity
If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you’re probably wondering how you can recover. It’s important to navigate a divorce for the benefit of your family, no matter what actions led to the marriage’s failure. The following tips can help you move forward.
1. Take Time to Process the Events
Coming to the realization that your marriage is over is devastating. If the cause of that breakdown is adultery, it becomes even more difficult to process. Give yourself time and space to process the situation.
With a bit of time, you can make a plan for yourself and how you can move past this circumstance. You’ll receive a new perspective that makes recovering from the divorce easier.
2. Accept Reality
No one wants to see their marriage fail, especially because of a spouse being unfaithful. The truth is difficult to accept, and you may try to deny the situation as long as possible. Denial hinders the grieving process, which, although difficult, is necessary for anyone going through a divorce.
Don’t be afraid to let any of your emotions out as you grieve. For many, this situation brings up a range of feelings, such as shock, anger, and sadness. Internalizing these feelings means carrying around the burden of your partner’s betrayal. Express them when you need to or speak with a trusted friend, relative, or counselor.
3. Take Care of Yourself
After you’ve had time to digest the situation and start grieving the loss of your marriage, you must remember to take care of yourself. Failing to do so can cause a serious deterioration in both mental and physical health as you grapple with the harsh realities of divorce due to infidelity.
You still have important responsibilities to take care of, including childcare or your employment. Balance these responsibilities with a greater focus on your own well-being. Keep yourself active, eat a healthy diet, and receive plenty of sleep to give yourself the energy and mindset necessary for dealing with a divorce.
4. Make Yourself Happy Again
Oftentimes, people who divorce because of a cheating partner feel that their partner’s actions are their own fault. You must remember that you are not responsible for their behavior and therefore shouldn’t treat yourself as the perpetrator. A much healthier viewpoint involves seeing yourself as the source of your own happiness.
When you keep this perspective in check, you’ll find it easier to step out of your comfort zone and adapt to your new situation. Find ways to make yourself happy without being tied to a partner.
Try to find it in you to forgive your partner for their cheating. This doesn’t mean you approve of their actions, but rather, you no longer resent them for it. You’ll feel much freer to move on with your life when the anger and betrayal of adultery are not bogging you down.
You can’t force this process. At some point, you may finally feel ready to move beyond the hurt and anger that your partner caused you. An excellent way to set up a brighter, happier future for yourself is to forgive them for their behavior.
6. Consult With a Reputable Divorce Attorney
The final tip for anyone navigating a divorce due to infidelity is to consult with a legal professional. Find local attorneys who focus on divorce cases to learn how they can help you. Ask them specifically about cases where one spouse committed adultery and the impact it had on the divorce proceedings.
Having a trustworthy and knowledgeable lawyer on your side can make the process much simpler. You’ll have someone advocating for you and see you through this challenging time.
Contact Lincoln & Wenk, PLLC – Experienced Divorce Attorneys in Phoenix, AZ
Enduring a divorce due to infidelity comes with its own unique set of challenges. If your spouse was unfaithful and unwilling to change, it’s time to discover how divorce may benefit you. Let the legal team at Lincoln & Wenk, PLLC fight for you and guide you through divorce proceedings.
Call our office in Phoenix at (623) 294-2464 to request a consultation with an attorney.