Legislature allows court to define fault when determining alimony

Published: Wednesday, March 13 2013 4:55 p.m. MDT

Bill HB338 defines fault as "wrongful conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship," including an extramarital affair, intent to cause physical harm or cause a spouse or children to reasonably fear life-threatening harm, or activity that undermines the financial stability of the other party or minor children.

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SALT LAKE CITY — With a final Utah Senate vote tallied Wednesday, courts will be able to consider fault when awarding alimony after a divorce.

Utah has been a no-fault divorce state for years, but Utah Court of Appeals judges were running into trouble with the way the statute was written, as it lacked a definition of fault, said HB338 co-sponsor Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan. The courts sought legislation on the matter.

The bill defines fault as "wrongful conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship," including an extramarital affair, intent to cause physical harm or cause a spouse or children to reasonably fear life-threatening harm, or activity that undermines the financial stability of the other party or minor children.

Hillyard said the definition is clear-cut and will help people "trying to heal from the trauma of divorce," providing a method to make their voice heard.

The Senate unanimously voted in support of HB338. It returns to the House of Representatives for final consideration.

Wendy Leonard

Twitter: wendyleonards

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