Florida takes a “no fault” approach to divorce. This means that either spouse may seek a divorce and does not need to actually prove that the other did anything “wrong” to trigger the divorce. Florida courts presume simply that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and allow the divorce to proceed on those grounds. This saves both spouses the trouble and stress of having their personal lives publicized in court. This means that spouses that have committed adultery are not necessarily considered at fault in a divorce.
However, an adulterer is not entirely off the hook when it comes to divorce in Florida. While a spouse does not necessarily have to prove that the other committed adultery in order to pursue a divorce, this conduct may affect elements that are ancillary to the divorce.
Child custody is one such element. A spouse that has committed adultery may be in jeopardy of losing his or her right to custody or seeing that custody diminished. This is so because moral fitness is one of the factors a court considers when making a custody determination. If one parent can show that the other parent’s adultery is a poor reflection on his or her moral fitness, the court may reduce that parent’s right to custody or visitation.
Additionally, adultery can affect the division of assets. While Florida is an equitable state when it comes to dividing assets, meaning it attempts to do so equally and fairly, this presumption may be overcome if one spouse can show that the other has wasted marital assets in the course of an affair. Expenditures such as gifts, trips, dates and other items purchased to further an affair are all considered wasted marital assets. These expenditures may be used to reduce that spouse’s portion of the divided assets.
Adultery can have serious effects on how property and custody issues are determined in a divorce. If your marriage has been impacted by adultery, consult a knowledgeable Florida family law attorney with the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras.