Is Adultery Illegal in Arizona?


In modern times it is just as likely that a couple gets a divorce than the couple stays together forever. According to the American Psychological Association, 40-50% of marriages end in divorce in the United States. One of the reasons, and certainly the most emotionally damaging reason, is because of adultery.

Adultery, is it illegal in Arizona?

While it is understandable how adultery can be seen as terrible act to commit, is it actually illegal in Arizona? Yes. Entering a marriage is a legally binding contract and adultery is the ultimate act against that contract.

Definition of Adultery in Arizona

ARS 13-1408 defines the act of adultery as; a married person who has sexual intercourse with another than his or her spouse, and an unmarried person who has sexual intercourse with a married person not his or her spouse.

What this means is that it is only consider adultery in Arizona if the spouse had sexual intercourse with another person besides their husband/wife. Anything besides sexual intercourse would not be considered adultery in Arizona.

An Adultery Complaint Must Be Filed to be a Crime

Marriage is complicated, much more so than people believe before they enter into one. Even the strongest and happiest of marriages come with disagreements, feelings of loneliness and anger towards the other spouse.

It is because of these reasons that the act of sexual intercourse outside of the marriage is not enough on its own to be considered adultery. The husband or wife has to actually report their spouse to the police. Only then can the act be considered adultery.

To file a complaint for a adultery, call the Phoenix Police Department non-emergency number.

Consequences of Committing Adultery in Arizona

The consequences of committing adultery in Arizona is that the spouse can be found guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor. The other person involved in the intercourse can be punished as well, regardless of their marital status.

A class 3 misdemeanor is one of the least severe punishments in Arizona. The maximum penalty of a class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona is up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and up to 1 year of probation.

While the penalties of a class 3 misdemeanor may be minimal, there are several negative consequences with acquiring a misdemeanor. If the judge determines that probation is necessary and the person on probation commits another crime during this period, they could end up serving serious amounts of jail time.

For more on the penalties and sentencing of misdemeanors in Arizona, refer to ARS 13-707.

Adultery is Not Often Enforced in Arizona

While adultery is terrible crime to commit against a spouse, the crime itself is not often enforced. Police officers do not like getting involved in personal matters such as adultery, they see them more as issues that should be resolved within the household.

This crime is often not enforced because Arizona is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither spouse has to prove blame or responsibility to end their marriage. In such scenarios, the only thing that would come out of committing adultery would be at max a $500 fine, 30 days in prison and 1 year of probation.

Adultery and Divorce in Arizona

Judges and police officers may not enforce adultery as a crime often in Arizona, but there can still be negative consequences of committing such an act. Besides severely damaging any possibility of the two spouses having a civil relationship, adultery can have negative consequences if the couple ends up filing for divorce in Arizona. 

During a divorce trial it is in the best interest of both parties to prove that they were a respectable spouse during the marriage. By committing adultery a spouse can severely damage their reputation to a judge.

Where behavior such as adultery has the biggest effect is when determining child custody. The behaviors associated with adultery- such as lying, manipulating and deceit – will count against the spouse if a child custody battle occurs.

How JacksonWhite Can Help

At JacksonWhite our family law team has over 25 years combined experience helping Arizona families with divorce cases. No matter what your marital situation currently is, if you are thinking about filing for divorce you will want an experienced attorney. A good divorce attorney can make all the difference in dealing with this difficult time.

Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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