In the United States, there are no-fault divorce states and mixed states, which allow for both fault-based and no-fault divorces. Like two fellow sunshine states, California and Nevada, Florida is a no-fault divorce state.
As a no-fault divorce state, Florida spouses are not required to prove that their other spouse’s marital misconduct caused the demise of the marriage. Instead of claiming things like adultery, cruel and inhumane treatment, or mental illness, for example, all a spouse has to do is file for divorce on the grounds that their marriage is irretrievably broken. So, where does this leave adultery and divorce?
Effect of Adultery on a Florida Divorce
We mentioned California earlier. In California, most of the time the judge will have zero interest in hearing about a spouse’s affair. What’s more, it’s rare for infidelity to impact child custody or alimony in a California divorce, but we aren’t located in California. We’re in Florida where the courts do take adultery into consideration in no-fault divorces.
In Florida, cheating can be considered when a judge is deciding on child custody, alimony, and property division. With child custody for example, if a parent’s cheating had a negative impact on the children, it is possible for their marital misconduct to lead to limited custody or visitation.
Impact on Alimony & Property Division
Under Florida law, adultery IS a factor that is considered when determining an alimony award, however, our courts have had issues coming to terms with our state’s no-fault divorce laws, and how they impact alimony (spousal support). As a general rule, a judge may increase an innocent spouse’s alimony award if the cheating spouse’s marital misconduct negatively impacted their financial needs for some reason.
Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning a couple’s marital estate is to be divided in a fair and equitable fashion, which does not necessarily mean “equal.” Essentially, if a cheating spouse wasted marital funds on a paramour, for example, if the cheating spouse wasted it on vacations, dinners, expensive gifts, rent, etc., the adulterer’s share of the marital estate could be reduced to compensate the innocent spouse for their losses.