When Fault Matters in Divorce

Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that couples do not need to prove fault in order to obtain a divorce. Instead, couples must simply demonstrate that their marriage is irretrievably broken. But what if one spouse is really at fault? Does the innocent spouse have any recourse? Even though a determination of fault is not necessary to obtain a divorce in Florida, the issue of fault often arises in Florida divorce proceedings. Spousal fault can indirectly affect division of marital assets, alimony payments, and sometimes even custody arrangements.

If a marriage ends due to the misconduct of one spouse, Florida courts will often protect the innocent spouse’s financial interests. In a typical Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, marital assets are divided equitably between the spouses. If one spouse has engaged in misconduct through the use of marital assets, the innocent spouse may request credit for those assets in the division of marital assets. Additionally, if one spouse committed adultery or some other form of misconduct, Florida law permits the court to take the offending spouse’s conduct into account when setting alimony payments.

Further, one spouse’s misconduct may affect parental time-sharing arrangements. A court must establish time-sharing arrangements based upon a child’s best interests. If a parent’s moral fitness comes into question due to adultery or other misconduct, that parent may be penalized through restricted parenting time. Not every parent who has committed adultery will be deemed unfit as a parent, however. Other factors will also be taken into consideration when developing a time-sharing plan.

Although Florida is a no-fault divorce state, a spouse who has harmed a marriage through some form of misconduct can still be held responsible in certain ways during the divorce proceedings. If your spouse’s misconduct caused your marriage to end, you will need an expert Tampa Bay divorce attorney who can help protect your rights during divorce proceedings.

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