Adultery may be a common reason for people to get divorced in Arizona, but it rarely affects how the courts rule in a divorce. With the exception of covenant marriages, most legal marriages in Arizona will go through the no-fault process if one spouse decides to file for divorce.

The courts aren’t going to consider adultery when setting custody terms or support levels in a no-fault divorce. Adultery also won’t affect property division unless one spouse used a significant amount of marital assets as part of their affair. However, if the cheating spouse is a military servicemember, there could still be legal consequences for infidelity.

Adultery claims are one area in which military divorces drastically differ from civilian divorces. Although military divorces go through the civilian courts, the potential does exist for the military courts to get involved during a divorce that involves adultery. While the family courts won’t treat a military divorce differently, the military courts could get involved. 

The military has rules against marital infidelity

Military servicemembers who join any branch are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). These rules guide what active-duty servicemembers do both in the service of the government and what they do on their own time. They do not apply to non-serving spouses of military servicemembers.

Among the many rules included in the UCMJ, there are rules forbidding marital infidelity. If a servicmember’s chain of command learns about and substantiates adultery claims, charges could result. Known as Extramarital Sexual Conduct, military charges related to an affair could mean a dishonorable discharge, effectively ending the person’s military career. A conviction could also mean a year of confinement or forfeiture of pay.

What constitutes adultery under the UCMJ?

Until recently, the definition of adultery was very specific and only really applied to heterosexual intercourse. Updates to the UCMJ have changed the rules to include oral sex, anal sex and same-sex physical intimacy, not just heterosexual affairs.

At the same time, the UCMJ also created a little more leniency for service members by acknowledging separation when considering allegations of infidelity. Provided that the servicemember has a legal separation from their spouse, dating or starting a new relationship will not necessarily violate the UCMJ.

The more you understand about how a military divorce differs from a civilian one, the better equipped you’ll be to stand up for yourself.

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