My Spouse is having an Affair: What are my options?
Any form of untruthfulness during a marriage can create a crack in its foundation. When the deception is infidelity, the consequences can be emotionally devastating for the innocent spouse. After experiencing the initial shock of finding out a spouse is having an affair, the injured party is often at a loss as to what his or her choices may be concerning ending the marriage.
Adultery is not a Ground
Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state which means that the only requirement for filing for divorce is that the filing party can claim that the couple is no longer compatible. While adultery may be the specific reason the marriage is ending it cannot serve as the legal basis or “ground” for the divorce.
Although Florida law does not require that parties file for divorce based on fault, the court can consider blame during the divorce. Equitable distribution, the process the court follows to divide marital assets and liabilities, involves a thorough review of each person’s conduct during the marriage which may include adultery in certain situations. For instance, if the unfaithful spouse used marital property to buy gifts for or pay for their extramarital partner’s expenses, the court can look at this when deciding how to divide marital assets. When it can be shown that the unfaithful spouse’s affair economically damaged their spouse, the innocent party may ultimately be awarded a disproportionate share of the marital property.
Alimony or “spousal support” is payment which one spouse may be ordered to pay the other for their living expenses during or after divorce. Florida law allows the court to consider either party’s adultery or the circumstances surrounding the affair when determining the amount of alimony to award. Depending on the situation, if it appears that the adulterous spouse has tangibly damaged their spouse through their extramarital relationship, the court could decide to order a larger or longer alimony payment.
Custody and Visitation
When the divorcing couple has children, an affair can have a damaging impact on the entire family. The court, which is tasked with approving parenting and time-sharing plans, will examine all plan terms and decide whether they are in the child’s best interest. One factor the court can look at is a parent’s “moral fitness.” If there is evidence that the unfaithful spouse has conducted themselves and their relationship in a manner which has harmed their child it could decide to limit that parent’s contact.
If you have learned of your partner’s infidelity, it is essential that you consult with an experienced family law attorney right away to learn about your options. At the Draper Law Firm have experienced family law attorneys who understand the issues and laws regarding adultery and divorce and can provide you with the advice you need. If you are considering divorce due to your spouse’s affair, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. We invite you to learn more about our firm here.