Does Adultery Matter in a Florida Divorce?

Yes, and no. Infidelity does not matter in a Florida divorce in the sense that the Sunshine State does not allow for fault-based divorce. In other words, the most common way to get a divorce in Florida is to simply cite irreconcilable differences with your spouse. A few other states offer at-fault divorce, and infidelity is an acceptable at-fault grounds in most of those states. Just because Florida is a pure no-fault state does not mean that your spouse’s cheating won’t come into play during the divorce at all. 

Effects on Child Custody (Time Sharing)

Perhaps the most significant matter to be decided in a divorce is the issue of child custody (called “time sharing” in Florida). In a contested divorce, a judge will rely on the “child’s best interests” standard to determine time sharing. This standard consists of 20 separate factors that a judge considers in a contested case. One of these factors is “the moral fitness of the parents.” In this relatively narrow context, adultery could come into play. 

Effects on Property Division

Florida law requires family law judges to divide marital property in a “fair and equitable” manner. There are many factors related to a couple’s financial situation that affects property division in a Florida divorce. In a divorce involving a finding of adultery, a judge might evaluate the cheating spouse’s spending habits and determine if any marital property was used to further the affair. If this happened, the judge is within the bounds of his or her authority to provide the other spouse a credit or reimbursement of sorts as a result of the dissipation of marital assets. 

Effects on Alimony

Judges are allowed to account for infidelity when making an award of alimony. Alimony is not awarded in all cases, though. The primary purpose of alimony is to help spouses either get financial support during the divorce or assist ex-spouses become financially self-sufficient after the divorce is finalized. 

Remember that a judge won’t need to decide matters of alimony, time sharing, and property division if you and your spouse agree on these matters. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses simply need to come up with a divorce settlement agreement and present it to the judge for approval (it is still recommended to have an attorney in an uncontested divorce). However, those who have been cheated on are, understandably, not often in the mood to come to an agreement with their spouses. 

Your Divorce Deserves Robust Legal Representation

It’s worth noting that a mere allegation of infidelity does not affect a Florida divorce. The spouse asserting infidelity needs to clearly show the court that an affair occurred and convince the judge that the affair should be considered in the final divorce decree. No matter which side you’re on, it’s important for an experienced and quality attorney to help guide you through divorce proceedings. Our firm routinely handles complex and emotional divorce cases; contact us today for information on how we can help you.