What is Marital Misconduct?
Although Florida is a no fault state, meaning neither party must prove fault in order to obtain a divorce, there are cases where a spouse’s fault or marital misconduct can be taken into account by the court. The type and severity of the misconduct is necessary to determine before presenting such evidence to the court. Therefore, it is essential, if you suspect your spouse of marital misconduct, that you discuss this with your Orlando Divorce Attorney to ensure the necessary evidence is presented before the court to make a proper and fair determination.
Marital misconduct generally defined, are actions by a spouse that have a negative effect, or insult the revered marital relationship, or result in physical, emotional, or financial harm to the other spouse. In many cases, the courts divide marital misconduct into two forms, the first being economic misconduct. Economic misconduct can be seen in the dissipation or concealment of marital funds during the time of the marriage. This may include the marital funds spent on a paramour, marital funds spent on involvement in illegal activity, hiding assets, excessive expenditures, or destruction of marital property. Outside of economic misconduct, a spouse may engage in adultery, criminal activity, substance abuse, or domestic violence that led to the destruction of the marriage and injuries the non-offending spouse.
Marital misconduct can be taken into account when determining a proper equitable distribution award, child custody, and alimony. For instance, if the court finds that one spouse’s conduct significantly depleted the marital assets of the parties, they may award an unequal amount of assets to the non offending spouse to compensate them for the losses they did not attribute to the marriage. Further, if criminal activity or misconduct of a parent can be shown to have detrimental effects on the minor children, the court will take this into consideration when awarding custody and timesharing. Finally, in some cases, if the emotional effects inflicted by the marital misconduct is so great the court may present a higher award of alimony in order to provide the affected spouse with the ability to seek counseling and to properly heal. However, it is important to remember that the consideration of marital misconduct is not to punish the offending spouse, but rather to fairly compensate the innocent spouse for actions that were not their own, and out of their control.
The court will look at the acts of misconduct fact specifically and will ask for evidence regarding the length of the misconduct, amount in damage due to the misconduct, the repetition, or frequency of the conduct, and when the misconduct occurred during the time of the marriage. Therefore, the court may determine certain misconduct to not have as much of an effect or weight in the proceedings, if the conduct happened once, or in the early years of a long term marriage, or even had little to no impact on the marriage itself. Therefore, it is important to speak to your Orlando Divorce Attorney about the specific misconduct of your spouse to determine the viability of this claim and how it may affect your specific case. With our knowledge and experience, we will be able to assist you in proving the misconduct and its effect on your marriage.
Speaking to an attorney at our Orlando office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 407-512-0887 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.