Can adultery affect divorce?
In Florida, the law does not recognize infidelity as grounds for divorce. Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means a spouse doesn’t need a specific reason to divorce their partner. If a spouse seeks a divorce, they must state the marriage is irretrievably broken. In other words, the relationship can’t be repaired. A judge then issues a divorce decree.
But what happens if one spouse has an extramarital affair? Now, is infidelity considered in divorce proceedings?
Yes…but only if there is a dissipation of assets.
Dissipation of Assets
Although marital assets are presumed to be equally divided, this is just a starting point in the search for equity in dividing assets acquired during a marriage.
Florida Statute § 61.075 provides the law relating to the division of marital assets and liabilities/debts. Part of the Statute allows the unequal distribution based on several factors, including “[t]he intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after . . . filing [for divorce] or within 2 years prior to the filing of [divorce]”.
An extramarital affair may lead to the dissipation of assets, provided that the cheating spouse is using marital funds to, for example, travel with a lover or provide a lover with lavish gifts. See, e.g., Rabbath v. Farid, 4 So. 3d 778 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009).
Despite a spouse being caught cheating, it doesn’t ensure the non-cheating spouse gets more assets.
For example, if an extramarital affair does not cause the waste or dissipation of marital assets, a court is less likely to consider the affair a reason to award an unequal distribution of the parties’ marital assets to the other spouse, on those grounds alone. Johnson v. Johnson, 847 So. 2d 1157 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003).
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