April 15, 2021

Does Adultery Affect Divorce Proceedings in Florida?

As a “no-fault” divorce state, Florida law provides for residents to seek a divorce without the need grounds other than the marriage is irretrievably broken. The spouse who wants a divorce must allege that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” 

In no-fault divorce law, the court does not decide who caused the divorce, so spouses do not need to speak about painful personal issues in court. One exception to this is if one spouse committed adultery. This may affect other elements in the case. Here are things to know about how a charge of adultery affects divorce proceedings in Florida.

How Does Adultery Affect Child Custody in Florida?

When deciding child custody and visitation, a judge needs to consider the welfare of the child. Though Florida law does not directly mention “adultery” as a factor in these evaluations, judges consider parents’ moral fitness. If one parent can prove the other’s adultery, they may be able to argue that this behavior could have adverse effects on the child. But there must be a connection between extra marital relationship and the care of lack of care of the child.

One outcome could be the judge limiting custody or visitation for the allegedly adulterous spouse. Besides moral fitness, the court also decides based on the child’s reasonable preference and school, home, or community record. The court also decides based on each parent’s physical or mental health and their ability to provide for the child.

How Does Adultery Affect Property Division in Florida?

Adultery could also impact how the court distributes marital property between the spouses. Florida uses equitable distribution, so the law presumes that both parties contribute equally to debts and assets. The judge divides properties and liabilities between the two parties using a set of criteria.

Some of these factors include the individuals’ economic circumstances, the length of the marriage, and each spouse’s contribution to acquiring income or improving liabilities. Other factors include each spouse’s contribution to childcare, willingness to retain a professional asset as a separate property, and whether the spouses interrupted career opportunities or their education for the marriage.

Purposeful wasting of marital assets like money spent on an extra marital relationship may also figure into the court’s decision. If one spouse is guilty of wasting assets, the judge could overcome the presumption of equity. For example, if one spouse used marital funds to maintain an adulterous affair, they could have a reduced share of the marital property as reimbursement to the other spouse for the money spent. This is called an unequal distribution of assets and liabilities.

How Does Adultery Affect Alimony in Florida?

Alimony or court-ordered payments ensure that both spouses have similar financial situations pending the divorce. The court could also order one spouse to provide alimony for a time after the formal separation.

Florida courts award alimony if one spouse needs financial support and the other one can pay. The court sets the type, frequency, duration, and amount of support. Also, judges may consider adultery when deciding how to award alimony. Typically, a wronged spouse’s alimony will only increase if the other spouse’s affair increased the “innocent” spouse’s financial need.

Conclusion

In Florida, adultery may affect various aspects of a divorce, from child custody to property division and alimony. An adulterous relationship may create various complications, and spouses in this situation need skilled divorce lawyers to pull through.

Get the best outcome for your case when you hire the Dorsey Law Firm. We specialize in family law in Jacksonville, representing clients in cases involving dissolutions of marriage, alimony and child support, child custody, visitation and timesharing, high net worth divorces, and much more. Contact us today for more information!

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