Adultery and its Impact on Divorce Settlements in Florida
Decades ago, many courts would only grant a divorce if one spouse was at fault for splitting up the marriage. For example, if Spouse A had an extra-marital affair and consequently Spouse B filed for divorce, then the court would generally be willing to grant the couple a divorce based on the grounds of adultery after finding Spouse A at fault for splitting up the marriage. However, many states today, including Florida, are “no fault” divorce states, which means that either spouse can file for divorce at any time simply because they no longer want to be married (they just need to proclaim that their marriage is irretrievably broken). Therefore, you no longer need to catch your spouse committing adultery (or engaging in some other act that breaks up your marriage) in order to obtain a divorce in Florida. But this begs the question; does adultery impact modern Florida divorces in any way? In a nutshell, yes it can, particularly when it comes to property division, determining alimony, and child custody.
Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that when a couple gets divorced in Florida and asks the court to divide their marital assets, the court is required to split the assets fairly. However, “fairly” does not necessarily mean evenly. Here in Florida, the court begins with the premise that splitting marital assets 50/50 is fair; however, this premise can be overcome if the court finds that one spouse intentionally wasted marital assets. In the eyes of the law assets can be wasted in a number of different ways, one of which is by spending marital assets on a non-marital partner. For example, if a husband buys his mistress expensive gifts, pays her rent, takes her out for dinner, etc. with marital assets during the course of his marriage, then the court will likely award his wife a greater share of the couple’s marital assets in order to compensate her for the assets that were wasted on her husband’s mistress.
Florida family law courts are allowed to consider evidence of adultery when awarding alimony thanks to section 61.08 of the Florida Statutes which states that, “the court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.” This does not mean that a cheating spouse will always be forced to pay alimony, but rather that proof of adultery is just one of the several factors that courts consider when deciding if alimony should be awarded in a particular divorce case.
Generally speaking, adultery will not impact a divorcing couple’s court-imposed child custody arrangement (known as a parenting plan in Florida). However, if it can be shown that the extra-martial affair affects the child’s well-being in some way, or if there is evidence to suggest that awarding a certain amount of timesharing to the cheating parent would not be in the best interest of the child based on their relationship with the non-marital partner, then the court will consider these ramifications when determining the parenting plan.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
Regardless of whether or not your spouse remained faithful during the course of your marriage the experienced divorce attorneys of the Law Offices of David. L. Hirschberg, P.A. are here to help you obtain the most favorable divorce settlement possible. To discuss your legal options and to get the ball rolling contact our Boca Raton office today at (561) 288-8620.