Cheating on your spouse, or being cheated on by your spouse, is unlikely to have a tangible impact on the outcome of your divorce. Adultery is a common reason for spouses to initiate divorce, but it probably won’t affect a divorce settlement as most people think it will.
It’s a common assumption that the spouse who was cheated on will get a better share of the marital property as compensation for their spouse’s adultery, but this simply isn’t the case. There are circumstances in which judges can take a spouse’s spending habits while having an affair into account, as we’ll get into below.
Florida Is a No-Fault Divorce State
As a no-fault divorce state, there is no need for either spouse to state a reason for their divorce beyond that it is “irretrievably broken.” Because of this, adultery is not a factor the courts will take into consideration as a “reason” for divorce.
This might seem unfair at first, especially from the point of view of someone whose spouse was having an affair, but there are limited circumstances in which infidelity can impact a divorce settlement.
Can Adultery Affect Property Division?
Adultery can affect property division during a divorce in Florida when a cheating spouse is spending large sums of money on their affair. Frivolous spending that only benefits one spouse is called wasteful dissipation, and judges can take it into account when dividing what’s left of a couple’s marital assets.
Expensive gifts, meals, vacations, and other expenditures related to an affair can be considered wasteful dissipation. This means that a judge can subtract all or a portion of the sum of these expenditures from the cheating spouse’s portion of marital assets and assign it to the non-cheating spouse.
Can Adultery Affect Child Custody?
Adultery can have an impact on child custody rulings, but a parent’s “moral fitness” is only one of many factors taken into account.
Perhaps more important to a judge is whether or not the cheating parent’s new partner poses a threat to the child. This opens them up to a level of scrutiny that can affect the outcome of child custody proceedings. Judges will also be concerned about the cheating parent’s ability to provide a stable household if they are so consumed with a new partner that it distracts them from their responsibilities as a parent.
More often than not, infidelity won’t play a significant role in most divorce cases. Because Florida is a no-fault state, there is no need to prove the adultery to even get a divorce. Even so, there are limited circumstances in which a judge may be willing to consider how cheating could result in an unfair property division or placing children in an unsafe environment.
If you are concerned about how cheating can impact your divorce, you can consult with our legal team at Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. With our experienced insight and guidance, we can help you understand your legal situation and the options available for moving forward.
Learn more during an initial consultation. Contact us online now to get started.