Does Cheating Affect Divorce in Florida?

Cheating can have an impact on the outcome of a divorce, but not in the ways many may expect—or even hope—it does. While it may seem like cheaters should be punished for their behavior during divorce proceedings, infidelity itself is not something that courts typically consider.

Rather, the courts are more concerned with reaching an equitable outcome to the divorce, particularly when it comes to financial matters. When marital assets fueled an affair, the courts are more inclined to look at a spouse’s infidelity more closely. Before we explore this topic in greater detail, however, let’s go over some basics of divorce in Florida.

Florida's No-Fault Divorce System

Florida operates under a no-fault divorce system. This means that one spouse does not need to prove the other did something wrong to obtain a divorce. Instead, the spouse filing for divorce can simply state that the marriage is "irretrievably broken." This system aims to simplify and expedite the divorce process, minimizing the need for contentious legal battles over who is at fault.

Cheating Can Affect the Division of Marital Assets

Florida follows the principle of equitable distribution in dividing marital assets. This means that the court seeks a fair, though not necessarily equal, distribution of property acquired during the marriage. It’s here where cheating can have its greatest influence on the outcome.

If a spouse can prove that the other engaged in reckless spending or financial misconduct tied to an affair, the court might award the innocent spouse a larger portion of the marital assets. For instance, if a cheating spouse spent marital funds on gifts, trips, or other expenses for their lover, the court may compensate the innocent spouse by awarding them a greater share of the remaining assets.

It’s important to note, however, that the court awarding the non-cheating spouse more in marital property isn’t really a punishment against the cheater. Instead, the court considers the property spent on the affair as a portion of what the cheating spouse would have received had they not already spent it on personal matters.

Alimony & Infidelity

Cheating can have a similar impact on an alimony order. If there isn’t enough marital property to award the non-cheating spouse an equitable portion, a judge may order alimony (or additional alimony) to make up for the remainder amount.

In other words, the court could award the entire remaining marital property to the non-cheating spouse in addition to alimony if the amount of marital property is insufficient. Such cases would typically involve egregious spending on the cheater’s behalf, however.

Child Custody & Cheating

Again, the court is not concerned with punishing a cheater for their infidelity, so child custody decisions in Florida focus on the best interests of the child. The court considers various factors to determine the most suitable arrangement for the child’s well-being. While infidelity alone does not typically determine custody outcomes, the circumstances surrounding the affair can influence the court’s decision.

If the cheating involved behavior that could negatively impact the child (such as neglect or exposing the child to unsafe situations), the court may factor this into its custody determination. However, if the affair had little to no effect on the child’s welfare, it might not significantly impact custody decisions.

Seek Legal Representation & Support

Given the complexities surrounding cheating and its potential impacts on divorce, securing competent legal representation is crucial. An experienced divorce attorney can help navigate the nuances of Florida's divorce laws, ensuring that your rights are protected and that the impact of cheating on your finances and your family’s safety is addressed.

Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office can provide the legal assistance you need during this time. Contact us today to request a consultation to learn more.


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