Can Cheating Have an Impact on Alimony Payments?
Florida law does not allow fault-based divorce, which means one spouse cannot legally base a divorce on adultery. However, this does not mean that adultery will never play a role in a divorce case. This is because the court may consider adultery as a factor when making determinations regarding alimony and other issues in your divorce.
Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is financial support provided by one spouse to another during or after a divorce. This is one of the most hotly contested issues in divorce cases, especially if there are allegations of infidelity. It is imperative to discuss adultery and other sensitive matters with your divorce lawyer so they can fully evaluate your rights.
Florida Alimony Laws
Florida law requires the court to determine whether one spouse has the actual need for support and whether the other spouse has the financial ability to provide support. In addition, the law states, “The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.” Because the law specifically allows adultery to be a factor in this decision, many people bring suspicions or allegations before the court when it comes to alimony.
Proving Adultery and its Effect on Alimony Decisions
When one spouse accuses the other of adultery, a simple allegation will not be enough. Instead, they must prove that the alleged adultery occurred by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This means they must provide enough evidence to convince the court that it is more likely than not (51 percent chance) that the spouse engaged in adultery. As you can imagine, evidence of adultery is usually highly personal in nature, and having a spouse present such evidence in open court can be distressing and can increase animosity between the spouses.
If the court decides that adultery occurred, the judge will examine whether the non-adulterous spouse suffered a financial detriment. If the cheating spouse spent marital funds on the affair, including meals, gifts, hotel rooms, or vacations, the non-cheating spouse experienced financial losses as a result.
Adultery can affect alimony determinations in different ways. For example:
- If the cheating spouse would pay alimony – The judge can consider whether the cheating spouse made the non-cheating spouse’s financial situation more difficult including reducing the value of property distribution.
- If the cheating spouse would receive alimony – The judge can consider whether the adultery contributed to the cheating spouse’s need for alimony.
Adultery may affect either spouse in an alimony decision. However, the occurrence of adultery is never going to solely control whether you pay or receive alimony. Instead, it is one of many factors considered by the court.
Contact Our Brandon Family Law Attorneys to Discuss Your Situation
At Carman, Bevington & Finegan, we help clients fight for fair alimony determinations, whether or not adultery is an issue. If you are getting divorced, you should learn the many ways our Brandon divorce lawyers can help. Call 813-654-3444 or contact us online today.