Alimony – Should Fault Be Considered?
There was a bit of a stir in the media this week when a Utah lawmaker proposed a bill that would give family court judges the authority to consider fault when deciding the issue of alimony in a divorce case. The news reports I have seen are unclear on whether this bill would modify the law to make it permissible for a judge to award alimony solely upon a finding of adultery by the payor spouse, or if it would simply allow the judge who has determined that a spouse is eligible to receive alimony to factor in the bad conduct in determining the amount and duration of the alimony award.
Fault Already a Factor Under Texas Alimony Statute
The law in Texas is already similar to the latter. Under Texas Family Code Section 8.052 a court that has determined that a spouse is eligible to receive spousal maintenance (the term the Texas Family Code uses for alimony) may consider a number of relevant factors including marital misconduct of either party, such as adultery. In other words the Texas statute already gives the judge authority to make an alimony award larger because of the adultery of the payor spouse or to make the award smaller because of the adultery of the recipient spouse.
Critics of these types of provisions argue that it encourages more contentious divorce litigation. They say these kinds of provisions force the lawyers to dig deeper and looking for fault and in particular affairs. Additionally, they argue that the primary purpose of alimony should be remedial. That is to help a spouse get on their feet financially during the transition after the marriage has ended.
What are Your Thoughts?
What do you think? Should a spouse who has committed adultery receive less alimony? What about a spouse who cheated and is now going to pay alimony, should that person have to pay more as a result of their bad behavior? Please comment below and let me know your thoughts are it
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