What Happens in a Divorce When a Spouse Cheats

adultery and divorce in Florida

Many divorces are caused by a married person having sexual intercourse with someone who is not their spouse. But, because Florida is a no-fault divorce state, you do not have to prove your spouse committed adultery to obtain a divorce in a Florida family law court.

You can obtain a Florida divorce in Florida simply by stating to the court that your marriage is irretrievably broken. If your spouse’s adultery has contributed to the breakdown of your marriage, the circumstances of the infidelity may be relevant in the divorce proceedings as you petition the court regarding the division of marital property, child custody, and alimony.

An experienced Tampa divorce attorney with Florida Law Advisers, P.A., can provide the personalized attention and compassionate guidance you need to seek the best outcome in your divorce. If your spouse was a cheating spouse, it may weigh against him or her when the court decides the terms of your divorce and how to divide marital property. To learn more, contact us today for a no-obligation consultation.

Do I Have to Prove Adultery in Order to Get Divorced?

Proving adultery is no longer a factor in obtaining a divorce in Florida, which is a no-fault divorce state.

However, if you are in the military or your spouse is in the military, you need to know that adultery is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and could lead to costly punishment, such as a reduction in rank and forfeiture of pay.

If you or your spouse is a current or former member of the military, you should speak to a military divorce lawyer with Florida Law Advisers, P.A. for experienced legal representation.

How Can Adultery in Divorce Affect the Division of Property?

One of the most challenging aspects of the divorce process is the division of marital property and assets. The presiding judge must approve a plan to divide marital assets and debts in a fair and equitable manner between the spouses. In a contested divorce, the court may have to determine how assets will be divided.

Florida is an equitable distribution state. According to Florida divorce law, “[I]n distributing the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court must begin with the premise of equitable distribution of marital property unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors.”

Among the relevant factors to be considered is the intentional waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the divorce petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.

This opens the door to questioning how marital funds should be divided if a cheating spouse has spent marital assets on an extramarital affair. In Florida, anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered a marital asset, regardless of who acquired the asset or whose name appears on the title of the asset.

A challenge would require one spouse to present evidence of long-term and/or substantial spending on an adulterous relationship, such as on lavish gifts, trips, or recurring bills, such as rent or a car payment. Adulterous spending could be used as leverage for the non-cheating spouse to demand certain marital assets as the property division plan is written.

How Can Adultery Affect Child Custody?

Divorcing couples who have underage children are required to negotiate child custody arrangements. Whether the divorcing spouses can create a child custody plan or a judge must determine it, the Florida court will establish a parenting plan to allocate the time the children will spend with each of their parents following a divorce.

Florida law states the preference that both parents share responsibility for a child after a divorce. But the court shall order sole parental responsibility for a minor child to one parent, with or without time-sharing with the other parent, if it is in the best interests of the minor child.

The law says the court shall consider:

  • The moral fitness of the parents.
  • The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the children as opposed to their own needs or desires.
  • The length of time the children have lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

Part of the harm done in an affair is due to the time and attention that the adulterer has taken away from their spouse and children and lavished on the outsider, and how it destabilizes the marriage and the family.

Especially after a long-term adulterous relationship or an indiscreet affair, the adulterous spouse’s conduct may be held against them regarding their moral fitness when a judge decides the parenting time schedule and visitation rights.

How Can Adultery Affect an Alimony Award?

Either spouse may seek alimony or spousal support from the other spouse in a divorce if they can show that they need it to maintain their pre-divorce standard of living. However, the presiding law states that the court may consider the adultery of either spouse and any resulting economic impact when awarding alimony and ordering one party to pay alimony.

It would be up to the spouse seeking alimony to demonstrate the economic impact of the adulterous affair on the marriage. Any money spent or gifts given as part of an adulterous affair represents a dissipation of marital assets.

An affair may have an indirect economic impact as well if the affair diminishes the earnings of either spouse. If the adulterous spouse took time away from a business or a job to conduct the affair, and this resulted in lost income, that could be a factor for the innocent spouse to present the court. If the innocent spouse were to seek counseling, this expense would also be a quantifiable economic impact of the affair.

Get Help from Our Family Law Attorneys in Tampa, FL

If adultery figures in the breakup of your marriage, the divorce attorneys of Florida Law Advisers, P.A., can investigate to determine the impact on you, your children, your marriage, and your finances. If you are wondering how adultery affects divorce, a knowledgeable attorney can work with you to determine the effect of an adultery matter on your divorce case. Florida Law Advisers can provide you with guidance based on more than 20 years of combined experience with divorce cases in Florida courts.

Contact us today for a consultation. We’re ready to be there for you every step of the way, making sure you understand your legal rights and options and advocating to see that your needs are met.

At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., we are committed to solving your divorce, bankruptcy, and immigration matters. We are a full-service law firm serving clients in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Orlando, and throughout Central Florida.