Will Adultery Matter In My Florida Divorce Case?
Are you concerned over how an adultery will affect your divorce case? Contact an Orlando divorce attorney to address your concerns.
With infidelity being the cause of 20-40% of divorces, it is a common to ask how it may affect the legal process of divorce. With the transition to a no-fault divorce in Florida, the courts do not require specificity as to the reasons behind the breakdown of a marriage. However, adultery can still be a factor considered in a court’s final judgment despite a no-fault status. Historically, courts only factor in a spouse’s infidelity when determining equitable distribution of assets, alimony awards, and child custody determinations. Talk with your Orlando Divorce Attorney to see how infidelity could impact your divorce.
Equitable distribution is the term coined by courts to refer to the compiling of assets and liabilities acquired by the couple during the time of their marriage. This can include mortgages, car loans, retirement plans, bank accounts or property. The court aims to provide each party with property of similar value in order to carry out fairness and equity. However, the court has broad discretion to consider a myriad of factors when determining equity. For instance, the court may look at the expenditures a spouse made when engaging in an adulterous relationship. The evidence of such financial expenditures can be gifts, financial support, or vacations taken with the paramour. Further, if the spouse sold marital property in order to pay for things for the paramour, the court may award the faithful spouse the value of such property sold. The court will likely look at the evidence presented as to the total amount of financial support expended on the outside relationship and equalize this amount with marital property and award such to the faithful spouse. However, it is critical to have evidence of such expenditures in order to provide the court with an accurate accounting. Discuss with your Orlando Divorce Attorney the effect such monetary expenditures may have on your property settlement.
A spouses’ infidelity may also affect an alimony award in a similar way. If a spouse has expended marital funds on an outside relationship, to the financial detriment of the other spouse, the court may take this into account when determining an alimony award. Alimony is awarded to a spouse who presents a need for such financial support where the other spouse has the ability to pay. (61.08) Along with the statutory factors provided in Florida law, the courts are also charged with considering equity and fairness. (61.08 (2)(j)) Infidelity on the part of one partner is one of the factors that will be taken into review when making these decisions and is determined on a case by case basis. Smith v. Bloom, 506 So. 2d 1173 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987). However, such consideration of an adulterous relationship is limited when considering alimony. Courts have restricted the consideration of such a relationship if it is the sole basis for an award. The court requires there be a presentation of a depletion of family resources due to the relationship, in turn contributing to the faithful spouses’ need of alimony. Noah v. Noah, 491 So. 2d 1124 (Fla. 1986), Escobar v. Escobar, 300 So. 2d 702 (Fla. DCA 1974). Your Orlando Divorce Attorney will review the factors with you to ensure that your support order is fair and equitable and that your rights are protected in the face of infidelity.
Finally, an adulterous relationship may also affect the court’s determination of child custody. When a case involves a child, the court’s overarching standard is known as the best interest of the child. When considering this, the court looks to countless factors, one including the “moral fitness of the parents.” (61.13). When there is infidelity in a marriage, the court may question the moral fitness of the unfaithful parent. The court will precisely look at the impact the relationship has on the parent’s ability to take care of their children, or if the affair affected the children’s emotional or psychological wellbeing. Adultery does not mean that a parent will lose custody, but the courts do not look favorably on these situations when deciding the placement of a child.
Divorce is a highly emotional time in anyone’s life, and when children are involved this only adds to the stress. When adultery is a part of the equation, this can bring even more anger and hurt into the process- making it difficult to find solutions that work. During this time, lean on your Orlando Divorce Attorney and let them help you through the emotional mediation and divorce process.
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