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Adultery and Divorce in the State of Florida


Some states allow citizens to pursue a divorce on fault grounds. Florida doesn’t. In states where fault-based divorces are allowed, one spouse blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage. In a no-fault divorce, either spouse can claim that the marriage is irretrievably broken and proceed from there. This saves the courts the duty of deciding issues regarding who’s right and who’s wrong while saving spouses from the need to blame one another.

Once upon a time, fault-based divorces were the only kind the states permitted. New York was the last state to operate on a full fault-based system. That meant that any couple that wanted to pursue a divorce, had to find some grounds to do so, some reason to blame the other spouse. Today, there are no states that permit divorces only on fault grounds.

But that doesn’t mean that poor behavior in the marriage won’t affect how the courts proceed.

The Effect of Adultery in a No-Fault Divorce 

Courts do consider elements that are grounds for fault-based divorces even in no-fault divorces. For instance, adultery and abuse can impact decisions such as property distribution and child custody.

In terms of child custody, the court may consider the role the adultery played on the home at large. Did it negatively impact the children? Is the parent who committed adultery morally fit to have decision-making power over their child?

Additionally, adultery may play a role in property distribution. For instance, if one spouse squandered money and gifts in an affair, the court may consider this an act that works against the interests of the marital estate at large and distribute assets accordingly.

How is Adultery Treated in a No-Fault Divorce 

It’s difficult for the courts to reconcile fault-based grounds like adultery with a no-fault system of divorce. Ostensibly, the courts consider adultery, but they can’t consider it in a vacuum. They must gauge the impact of the adultery on the rest of the marriage. That’s why, for instance, the courts will look at what kind of money was spent facilitating an affair as opposed to the affair alone being cause to reward the spouse who was cheated on. In the case of something like alimony, while the courts can consider adultery when deciding alimony, the courts cannot use adultery as the basis for increasing a spouse’s alimony. That is, unless the adultery someone how financially impacted them.

The Bottom Line Concerning Adultery 

Adultery is not a primary cause in Florida to make decisions about key elements in a divorce such as child custody, alimony, or property division. If one spouse cheated on another, that alone would not be reason to award the other spouse a better split of the property or better custody rights.

Talk to a West Palm Beach Divorce Attorney 

If you’re going through a tricky divorce right now, contact the West Palm Beach divorce attorneys at Bruce S. Rosenwater & Associates for an appointment today.

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