Should cheaters and adulterers lose alimony and spousal support?

The November 2010 divorce filing of Eva Longoria Parker against her husband Tony Parker for alleged adulterous texts with a mutual friend, raises this question: should cheaters and adulterers lose alimony and spousal support?

The reason this question came up is because in her petition, Ms. Longoria-Parker asked for spousal support from her husband Tony. Both Eva and Tony make millions of dollars at their jobs. She is a major star of ABC’s Desperate Housewives and he has a multi-year contract with the San Antonio Spurs. So she doesn’t really need spousal support – although, I should point out that “need” is not the test. It is a question of the standard of living while they were married and maintaining that.

But it begs the question whether the courts ought to consider adultery in making an award for spousal support. Obviously, Eva is not the one at fault here. She did not commit adultery. Her husband allegedly did. We do not yet know what his “answer” to the complaint is and whether he is going to counter-sue for spousal support himself. He could. He could answer the complaint and seek spousal support from her.

But even assuming he does not, it’s a fair question, isn’t it? To ask whether a cheater should receive spousal support since they are usually the reason that the marriage cracked up to begin with? In other words, in the cases where the spouse files for divorce following a discovery of adultery, should the adulterer be made to suffer? Should he or she lose their right to spousal support? And this is a general question, not just about the Longoria-Parkers.

In most states, they do not lose their rights to spousal support. There is a movement in a few states that would factor adultery into that analysis – of how much support to give, if any. I don’t want to say Arizona is one of those states because I could be wrong; but I almost think it is. I almost want to say that Arizona factors adultery into it’s award of spousal support.

New York does not care about who committed what in making awards of spousal support and alimony. Not really. Unless the behavior “shocks the conscience.”  Otherwise, once you prove grounds (and New York is now no fault so forget I even said that) you will get your equitable distribution, and you will get your spousal support or alimony – whether durational or permanent – per the judge’s discretion.

It just seems unfair that someone could commit adultery, cause the marriage to crack up, and still receive alimony and spousal support in most states – no questions asked. Something seems a little bit off about that. It’s like they breach the contract, yet they get the other party to pay “specific performance.”

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