Does Adultery Still Matter in a Florida Family Law Case?
Florida has been a ‘no-fault’ divorce state for many decades. Fault was removed as a factor in Florida divorces in 1971. Prior to that year, adultery was one of the grounds for a legal divorce. Nowadays, Florida divorces are generally sought on the grounds that a couple has ‘irreconcilable differences’. In other words, a couple can get a divorce simply because things are not working out. The specific reasons as to why things did not work out will obviously vary on a case-by-case basis. However, despite the fact that fault is no longer at issue in divorce cases, adultery can still matter. In fact, alleged or proven adultery could potentially have an impact in many different types of Florida family law cases.
Three Reasons Why Adultery Might Matter
Adultery can have an impact on the distribution of assets. Under Florida law, marital property is distributed in an equitable manner. This means that property is divided in a manner that is deemed to be fair by the court. When dividing property, a Florida court has the ability to consider many different issues, including why the marriage broke down in the first place. If an unfaithful spouse was spending money to aid their adultery, corresponding funds may be offset in the property distribution process. Essentially, that spending will be considered to be ‘personal waste’.
Marital infidelity can have an impact on alimony calculations. For example, in a recent case from the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal, the court reiterated that evidence of adultery will be considered in alimony calculations. However, the court did state that marital infidelity is still a secondary factor. The primary factor in alimony calculations will always be the reasonable financial needs of the parties involved.
Under Florida law, ‘moral fitness’ is a factor in the determination of child custody. On the issue of moral fitness, marital infidelity may be considered as adverse information. It could have an impact on a child custody case, particularly if the court finds evidence that the adultery had a negative impact on a parent’s ability to care for their child. That being said, child custody determinations are based on many different factors. Adultery certainly does not mean that a parent will lose out on their custody rights.
Emotions Matter in Family Law Cases
Finally, it should also be noted that family law cases are usually deeply emotional. The impact of adultery can be primarily an emotional one. It can make it more difficult for couples to find a collaborative and mutually beneficial solution to their issues. This makes the services of a compassionate family law attorney especially important in these cases.
Do You Need Family Law Assistance in Central Florida?
Our team is ready to help. At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., we have extensive experience handling family law cases throughout Central Florida. If you have questions about divorce, asset division, child custody, child support or alimony, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Orlando office today. We look forward to hearing from you.