When does adultery matter in a no-fault high net worth divorce?

Even if the no-fault judicial system in place for Florida high net worth divorces relieves the spouses of the burden to address personal issues and lay the blame on each other’s shoulders, there are instances where poor behavior, such as adultery, may affect other elements of the divorce.

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In a no-fault divorce state like Florida, either party can seek a high net worth divorce by invoking the marriage is “irretrievably broken” or one of the spouses is mentally incapacitated (or was declared so at least three years before filing for a divorce).

The no-fault system clears the court of the challenging duty of deciding where the fault lies in the event of a divorce and relieves the spouses of the burden of hashing out painful personal history in court.

However, if one of the spouses committed adultery, other elements of the divorce may be affected.

The effects of adultery on a Florida high net worth divorce

Adultery is not clearly defined in Florida law, but it is generally viewed as volitional sexual relations between a married person and an individual different from the spouse. Adultery happens to be a crime in Florida, so there is the danger of being prosecuted for this misdemeanor should the negligent spouse be caught red-handed and reported to the authorities.

When divorce is on the table, the alleged affair needs to be proved in open court. Simply declaring that one of the spouses was unfaithful is not enough to stand.

Adultery can play a factor in a high net worth divorce proceeding when considering the following elements:

  • property division
  • alimony
  • custody of the children and parenting time

Assistance is needed when navigating high net worth divorces involving adultery

Florida is an equitable distribution state in the matter of splitting marital property. As a result, the judge will distribute marital property in a fair manner between the spouses, considering various elements that come into play. The court will evaluate the potential marital waste accompanying the alleged act when adultery is involved.

Even so, the burden of proof rests with the accuser to prove that the dissipation of assets occurred and sometimes is not worth pursuing due to the high cost of securing sufficient evidence. Still, if the affair reduced the marital assets or generated unwanted debt, the judge will likely rule on the affected spouse getting appropriately compensated.

Florida laws allow judges to take under advisement whether one spouse’s adultery will influence the alimony awarded. The judge might raise the wronged spouse’s alimony if their partner’s misconduct increases the disadvantaged spouse’s financial needs. The court can order alimony:

  • as a payment from one spouse to the other for the period when the divorce is pending and,
  • sometimes, for a certain period after the divorce is finalized.

When child custody is involved, the judge needs to consider potential issues that may be detrimental to the child’s mental health. It’s not a matter of assessing the unfaithful spouse’s “moral fitness” but of not exposing the child to unwanted influence that may not be beneficial.

Special considerations need to be granted to prenuptial agreements that include so-called “infidelity clauses”, consisting of noteworthy penalties for cheating. Such clauses can limit economic rights or award damages if one of the spouses is found guilty of cheating.

An individual’s goal in a divorce should be to come out as financially and emotionally stable as possible, not to punish their former spouse. Before pursuing any strategy, consulting with a skilled Florida high net worth divorce lawyer is advisable to see what is worthwhile. Our principal attorney and founder of The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary will look out for you and your offspring’s best interest in complex marriage dissolutions. Make sure to book a free appointment to discuss all the necessary details.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.