How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Florida?
Adultery is painful, and it can spark divorce. But Florida’s status as a no-fault state means you can’t cite your partner’s affair as grounds for divorce. And if you collaborate on an equitable split, it may never come up at all.
That said, if you end up fighting your ex in a Florida courtroom, their adultery could work in your favor. You could use your partner’s infidelity to negotiate a better settlement with your spouse before you ever set foot in a courtroom.
What does Florida’s no-fault status mean?
In no-fault states like Florida, you can’t cite a mistake or fault as the cause of your divorce.
Two main reasons for Florida divorces exist per state law:
- Irreconcilable differences: Your marriage is broken and can’t be fixed. You’re not required to describe why it’s ruined and who is at fault.
- Mental incapacity: One person has been incapacitated for at least three years.
No-fault states like Florida can make the divorce process easier. For example, a spouse who wants to stay together can’t disprove their spouse’s claim that the marriage is broken. The split happens whether they want it or not.
So, if your spouse was unfaithful, you might not have the chance to publicly shame them for breaking your marriage vows. Since avoiding court is easier on both parties, it’s often better to move past tough emotions related to your ex’s infidelity and negotiate what you can outside a courtroom.
Can you cite a fault when you file for divorce in Florida?
You cannot cite a fault like adultery when you file Florida divorce paperwork. No state-sanctioned form includes a box or line where you can provide this information. As much as you might like to tell the world about the mistakes your spouse made, there’s no place on the forms to do so.
Can adultery affect parts of your Florida divorce settlement?
While you can’t cite your partner’s infidelity on your initial divorce petition, you could talk to a lawyer or mediator about it. Per Florida law, courts can consider issues like adultery in limited situations, including some that involve divorce settlements.
The suggestion of cheating could alter the following three areas:
Florida laws clearly state that judges can consider the adultery of either spouse and the financial impact of it when determining alimony or spousal support.
If your spouse had a long-running affair and showered that person with gifts, you could ask for reimbursement through alimony payments. Hard proof of the infidelity, preferably with receipts of money spent on the third party, could help you prove your case.
Spousal support payments could also rise if infidelity caused you alone to spend more time on activities that are typically shared, such as raising your children or making home repairs.
2. Debts and assets
Florida courts start with the premise that marital debts and assets should be split equally in divorce. However, state laws allow judges to make rulings needed to provide equity and justice between both parties. If the adultery was long-lasting and painful, it could result in a larger judgment to compensate for your loss.
Since judges make this determination, risks are involved. A sympathetic person on the bench could lead to a bigger share than one you’d get with a different judge. But the more proof you have of the harm you faced due to your spouse’s behavior, the more you might get in a final settlement.
3. Child custody and support
Florida courts attempt to preserve parental relationships. Approved parenting plans typically provide children with frequent and continuing contact with both parties. And parental rights and responsibilities are shared.
But Florida laws allow judges to consider important factors that relate to adultery. For example, judges can consider a parent’s capacity to act on a child’s needs, not the desires of the adult.
A parent with a long history of putting children behind the needs of an ongoing affair could get a smaller slice of child custody. And that decision could lead to larger child support payments, too.
Should you use adultery in your Florida divorce?
Florida divorces work best when both parties collaborate on equitable solutions. When you work together, you preserve as much of your relationship as you can, shorten your case time frame, and stay out of expensive court battles.
Going to court may seem like the perfect way to retaliate for adultery. But Florida cases are so long and expensive that you may end up suffering, too. So, while you can mention the issue of infidelity in your divorce negotiations and point out the pain and suffering you endured, it may or may not give you an advantage in court.
References61.052: Dissolution of Marriage. The Florida Legislature.
Consumer Pamphlet: Divorce in Florida. The Florida Bar.
61.08: Alimony. The Florida Legislature.
61.075: Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets and Liabilities. The Florida Legislature.
61.13: Support of Children, Parenting and Time Sharing, Powers of the Court. The Florida Legislature.