When a couple’s relationship ends due to infidelity, there are usually hurt feelings and animosity throughout their divorce. When the case begins, the injured spouse may believe that because they have been cheated on, they can file on this basis in court. Adultery is not a ground for divorce in Florida. However, this does not mean that it will not be a factor in the case. Here are some considerations regarding how adultery can impact your divorce.
Florida is a “No-Fault” State
Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state which means that either spouse will be able to file for divorce without stating a ground such as adultery. The only requirement is that the filing party claim that they are no longer compatible with the other person. If the court finds the couple is incompatible, the divorce will be granted.
While it is true that Florida does not require that parties file for divorce based on culpability, this does not mean that fault is irrelevant. Each person’s behavior can be scrutinized by the court when deciding how to divide the couple's marital assets fairly. The court's equitable division of the matrimonial assets can take adultery into consideration in certain situations. For instance, if the unfaithful spouse used marital property to buy gifts or pay for their extramarital partner’s expenses, the court can look at this when deciding how to divide marital assets. When the adulterous spouse's actions harmed their former partner, they may be entitled to recover a disproportionate share of the marital estate.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
Spousal support or alimony is payment which a Florida divorce court can order another party to pay the other during and following divorce. This support can be ordered when there is a demonstrated need by one party, and the other has the ability to pay. The law allows that “[t]he court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony.” In practicality, if it can be proven that the adulterous spouse caused harm to their spouse through their adulterous relationship, the court can look at this fact in deciding the appropriate amount of alimony.
Child Custody and Time-Sharing
Depending on the situation, an extramarital relationship can be damaging not only to a spouse but also to the couple’s children. The court will consider several factors when evaluating a proposed parenting and time-sharing plan to decide if the terms are in the child's best interest. A parent’s “moral fitness” is a factor the court can consider during this process. If the court finds that a parent’s adulterous conduct has been harmful to their child, this could result in limited parenting time.
When infidelity is part of a divorce, it raises complicated issues for both parties and potentially their children. If adultery is a factor in your divorce, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced family law attorney who can provide you with the counsel you need. At the Draper Law Firm, we have attorneys who are experienced with helping families as they go through divorce and can provide the guidance and support you need. We are here to help. Please, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We invite you to learn more about our firm here.