HOW DOES ADULTERY IMPACT ALIMONY IN FLORIDA?
Every divorce is troubled with many emotional factors. A divorce where adultery is involved can heighten these emotions greatly. With the turn in Florida divorce law to “no fault” divorces, many feel as though adultery will have no effect on their divorce proceedings. However, under certain circumstances, you or your spouse’s extramarital affairs may come into consideration during equitable orders from a judge, especially in an alimony award. Contact your Orlando Divorce Attorney to discuss how the act of adultery may become a factor in your divorce and spousal support determination.
In general, an alimony award surrounds the financial status of each party. The court will first determine if there is a need for spousal support as well as a respective ability to pay such support. After this initial determination, the court will look to factors such as: standard of living established during the marriage, length of the marriage, age, physical and emotional status of each party, earning capacities, contribution to the marriage, responsibilities to childcare, sources of income, financial resources as well as any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties, in order to determine a proper alimony award. 61.08 It is clear, these factors primarily concentrate on a party’s ability to financially provide for themselves, based upon their income, general wellbeing, and previous customs. However, along with the financial factors, statute specifically allows the court to also “consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determine the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded” 61.08 With such clear direction, it is important to bring to your Orlando Divorce Attorney’s attention any adultery that may have occurred in your marriage to determine its effect on your specific divorce proceeding.
However, there are only few instances in case law where the court considered adultery to be a significant factor in an alimony award. First, the court refuses to award alimony bases solely on the action of an adulterous spouse, rather the adultery must also have created a financial need for the faithful spouse. Noah v. Noah, 491 So. 2d 1124 (Fla. 1986). The courts focus on the depletion of marital funds that the extramarital affairs had on the financial status of the parties. For instance, if you can present the court with evidence of large gifts given to a paramour by your spouse, or payment of bills such as rent, or utilities; even evidence of vacations, dinners, or other forms of entertainment that were paid for with marital funds, this could be taken as evidence to determine an alimony award. When considering adultery, the court does not award spousal support to punish the unfaithful spouse. Williamson v. Williamson, 367 So. 2d 1016 (Fla. 1979). Rather, the court attempts to return the faithful party to the financial status they would have been in without the depletion of marital funds expended upon the extramarital affair.
If you wish to present the court with a claim of alimony based upon an affair where marital funds were used it is important to have proper documentation. You may present hotel receipts, sale of marital assets, purchases of vehicles, bank records or pictures from vacations your spouse went on. In some cases, it is helpful to employ the services of a forensic accountant to uncover hidden transactions and accounts your spouse may have opened in order to fund these extramarital affairs. Your Orlando Divorce Lawyer will help to obtain this documentation and discuss the evidence necessary to substantiate your claim.
If you are entering a divorce with a spouse who has been unfaithful ensure you have someone on your side to protect your rights. Your Orlando Divorce Attorney has significant knowledge and experience dealing with extra martial affairs and how they affect Florida divorce proceedings.
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