Sexual relations with someone other than your spouse, sometimes referred to as adultery, can have serious repercussions for your marriage, including divorce. Because Florida is a no-fault divorce state, the presiding judge will allow a divorce to proceed regardless of what caused your marital breakdown. However, adultery during the marriage can still impact things like alimony, asset dissolution, and child custody. Contact the O’Mara Law Group today to learn more.
Intimate relationships with someone other than your spouse, sometimes known as adultery, can seriously erode trust in a marriage. Though marriage counseling can help, one or both spouses may find that their relationship is irretrievably broken and decide to file for divorce. If they live in the Sunshine State, they may also find themselves asking: How does adultery affect divorce in Florida?
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you do not need a specific reason justifying your request for a divorce. You only need to show that your relationship with your spouse is no longer sustainable. Whether that is because of infidelity or something else is neither here nor there.
However, infidelity in the marriage can impact things like alimony, asset dissolution, and child custody. The precise impact will vary from case to case. The family law attorneys at the O’Mara Law Group have extensive experience navigating the legal and factual complexities of divorce proceedings, including those involving adultery. Contact us today to learn more.
How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Florida?
A Florida judge can grant a divorce when a marriage is “irretrievably broken.” A simple statement that you no longer wish to remain married is enough to proceed with a divorce. Even if a spouse engaged in specific behavior that precipitated the divorce, such as adultery, it should not impact the judge’s legal determination of whether the spouses are eligible for legal separation.
What Is No-Fault Divorce?
Again, Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that you do not need to prove wrongdoing on the part of your spouse in order to file for legal dissolution of the marriage. There is no need to summon witnesses or gather evidence justifying your motives for filing. This straightforward approach streamlines divorce proceedings and helps reduce at least some of the stress in what may turn out to be an emotionally exhausting situation for all parties involved.
However, though the no-fault divorce law allows spouses to file for divorce without proving wrongdoing, infidelity can still impact things like property division, child custody decisions, and alimony. Read on to learn more.
Does Adultery Affect the Division of Property?
In a minority of states, marital property is divided evenly between separating spouses. However, Florida courts take a different approach. The governing statute provides as follows:
“[I]n distributing the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors.”
In making its determination, the court will evaluate all factors holistically and in context. Relevant factors include things like:
However, adultery may impact property division if a spouse uses joint marital assets to support an extramarital affair. For example, if a spouse uses household funds to fund an adulterous affair, perhaps by paying for their lover’s bills or an extravagant trip, this may impact the presiding judge’s equitable distribution of marital assets in the divorce.
Does Adultery Affect Child Custody?
When a married couple with minor children files for divorce, the presiding judge will have to decide who will hold primary custody. They will also establish a visitation schedule and determine parenting time. The court makes these decisions to protect and promote the best interests of the child. In other words, the law is very concerned with ensuring that children of divorcing spouses have a safe and nurturing environment to grow up in.
So, though the child custody statute does not specifically mention adultery, the last item on this list—moral fitness—may come into play. For example, if one parent’s adultery involved extensive deception, a decline in the parent’s attention to their child, and the like, the presiding judge may decide to reduce their parenting time or visitation rights.
Does Adultery Affect Alimony?
Yes. Courts may award temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, or durational alimony to spouses in need if the paying spouse can afford it. Further, the governing statute expressly allows courts to consider the adultery of either spouse and any resulting economic impact when deciding the amount of alimony to be awarded.
If the judge determines that alimony is appropriate, it will evaluate another long list of factors when determining how much the recipient will receive and for how long. Relevant factors include:
So, suppose again that a spouse uses marital assets to fund an adulterous affair, perhaps by paying for expensive meals and shopping sprees. In this scenario, a court can consider the amount spent when determining how much alimony their soon-to-be ex-spouse is entitled to. The judge can also treat this evidence as proof that the paying spouse can afford the monthly disbursements.
How Can a Lawyer Assist with Complex Divorce Cases?
Going through a divorce can be a difficult experience for all parties involved, even if the marriage was short-lived and produced no children. For one thing, the separating spouses must embark on a new life path without their partner. This can be daunting.
Further, intense emotions often impact their ability to communicate productively with one another as their divorce is finalized and long after, especially when adultery is part of the reason for the divorce. This can make negotiating marital assets, child custody, and alimony quite challenging.
Seeking help from a qualified Florida divorce attorney can facilitate things. As your legal counsel and representative, it is their duty to act in your best interest. They can do so by bringing a level of professional objectivity to an otherwise emotionally fraught situation. A compassionate and understanding legal team can also provide you with much-needed support during what may be a very difficult time in your life.
Trust an Orlando Divorce Attorney from the O’Mara Law Group
If you are going through a contested divorce involving infidelity, it is important to work closely with a knowledgeable and compassionate attorney who understands and appreciates the personal nature of adultery and divorce. The family law attorneys at the O’Mara Law Group can help you navigate this challenging situation.
Our legal team includes divorce attorneys Mark M. O’Mara, Cathleen Winter, and Mark Rabinowitz. All three are highly skilled in their practice area. They are also widely recognized in the legal community and among our clients for the high quality of their services. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.