Florida is a no-fault state for divorce, so a petitioner need not cite any type of marital misconduct when requesting a dissolution of marriage. But if a party alleges domestic violence, the court may consider the charges when ruling on various aspects of the divorce, including:
- Timesharing and parenting time — A court could find that a parent with a history of domestic violence is unfit to be a parent who has majority timesharing. The court can also put restrictions on parenting time, requiring a court-appointed monitor to supervise visits. The court can prohibit visitation until the abusive parent has demonstrated successful reform; in extreme cases, the court can terminate parental rights.
- Spousal support — The primary considerations for the court when deciding alimony are the financial need of spouse receiving alimony and the supporting spouse’s ability to pay it. However, if domestic abuse has impacted a spouse’s ability to become self-supporting, the court can consider relevant facts in determining an alimony award.
- Division of property — Domestic violence is not one of the factors that judges must consider when dividing marital property under The 2016 Florida Statutes §61.075. However, the statute does allow the court to weigh “[a]ny other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties,” opening the door to a consideration of domestic violence, if a judge feels it is relevant.
It is worth noting that allegations of domestic violence can also affect the procedure the couple uses for getting the divorce. When there is a history of domestic violence, cooperative processes such as collaborative divorce or mediation are unlikely to work. Experienced attorneys may be able to make headway through traditional negotiation, but often the divorce must be contested. This means a trial on the pertinent issues, including the allegations of domestic abuse.