How will marital misconduct affect a divorce?
Because Florida is a no-fault state, marital misconduct can be a little bit of a tricky issue.
However, there are exceptions and even though Florida is a no-fault divorce state, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to answer in some way for any misbehavior during the marriage.
Some broad definitions of Marital Misconduct are:
- Alcoholism or addiction,
- Domestic violence
- Physical or mental abusive behavior
- Economic misconduct
The judge can take evidence of marital misconduct when deciding:
- Division of assets and liabilities,
- Child custody
- Alimony/Spousal Support
Once there is proof that some degree of marital misconduct has occurred the judge will further look at these when giving weight:
- The length of the marriage
- The character of the misconduct
- The time period during the marriage when the misconduct occurred
- If the misconduct was continual or what was the frequency of it
Marital Misconduct and Division of Property
In the case of division of assets and liabilities economic fault (economic misconduct) , adultery or an addiction all can directly influence division of the couple’s property. However, domestic violence might not be considered relevant or appropriate consideration.
Economic misconduct occurs when one spouse intentionally uses marital funds for his or her benefit for a reason unconnected to the marriage. If this is the case, the misconduct may be considered by the court and lead to an unequal division of marital assets. The marital misconduct must have occurred in the 2 years prior to filing for divorce.
Here are some examples of ‘Economic Misconduct’
- Intentionally dissipates marital assets“intentional dissipation
- Destroys martial assets
- Hides or conceals marital assets
- Wastes or depletes money due to over-spending
- Selling property under fraudulent terms
- Using assets in an affair with another person during the marriage
- Using assets to buy drugs in the case of drug addiction
Normal day to day expenditures, unintentional loss on investments, and other substantial expenditures would not be considered in deciding Economic Misconduct.
Marital Misconduct and Alimony
In addition to having a possible effect on the division of property, marital misconduct may also have an effect on alimony or the amount of spousal support a spouse receives or has to pay.
Marital misconduct may be brought to the judge’s attention either in the beginning (in the petition for the dissolution of the marriage) or as a claim to alimony and awarding of property. When within the petition for dissolution of marriage, the marital misconduct needs to be included in the paragraph stating the marriage is irretrievably broken.
After professional and ethical consideration, and assuming there is admissible evidence to support the claim, the accused spouse should be notified.