If your divorce was precipitated by your spouse’s infidelity, you may feel that it’s only fair that you get everything you want in the divorce, including the bulk of your shared property. That’s an understandable feeling. However, Florida law doesn’t give someone a specific advantage in their divorce because their spouse cheated on them.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state. A couple just needs to declare is that their marriage is “irretrievably broken” to officially seek to end it.
When property division could be affected by infidelity
If you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement on how your property will be divided, the court will do so based on the “equitable distribution” standard. That means a judge is tasked with dividing the property fairly — not necessarily equally. They’ll look at a number of factors, like what each spouse contributed financially and in other ways to the marriage. However, bad behavior by either spouse will play little, if any role in the division.
Where your spouse’s infidelity may have an impact on your property settlement is if they spent a significant amount of your marital assets on their paramour(s) — like secretly paying for an apartment, taking them on expensive vacations or gifting them with cars, jewelry or clothing, the court may try to even things out in the settlement.
Don’t expect custody to be affected by your spouse’s infidelity
If you have children, your spouse’s adultery probably won’t be a factor in determining how custody is divided by the court if the two of you can’t work out a custody agreement on your own. If your spouse remained a good parent throughout their extramarital activities, a judge won’t deny them custody or visitation because they were an unfaithful spouse.
You may fare better if a judge doesn’t have to decide
Your best bet at getting the bulk of your marital property and perhaps even spousal support in your divorce from a cheating spouse is to appeal to their sense of guilt. If they feel bad about the pain they caused you – or if they just want to get the divorce behind them so they can settle down with someone else – they may agree to a great deal of what you ask.
Your feelings of anger, betrayal and sadness are understandable — but don’t let them guide your decisions. Your family law attorney can provide a voice of reason and help you work toward the best possible settlement.