Undoubtedly one of the first things we are told in consultations with potential clients who are seeking a dissolution of marriage is whether the potential client or their spouse have been unfaithful in the marriage. While infidelity can often be a fundamental reason why a spouse seeks a divorce, the actual infidelity is rarely a fact that is legally relevant.
Certainly from a morality standpoint, the majority of people would agree that faithfulness to a spouse or long-term partner is essential to a trusting, happy, and successful relationship together. Yet many potential clients are surprised when we inform them that Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that a spouse’s infidelity need not be alleged in order for a Florida court to grant a dissolution of marriage. Rather, a Florida court simply requires that a party swear that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” as part of obtaining a dissolution.
Often clients want the court to see which spouse was”wrong” and want it known that they were the faithful spouse. In reality, however, it is often irrelevant to the court. For example, while recently appearing in Miami-Dade Domestic Violence Court, a party opened their testimony by alleging that an argument began over the other party’s purported unfaithfulness. The court immediately cut the testimony off and admonished the entire courtroom that testimony regarding infidelity was not at issue and therefore would not be considered by the Court. While that was a domestic violence-specific hearing, it is indeed rare that fidelity is an issue that is important for the family court’s consideration. In fact, one of the few exceptions relating to a spouse’s infidelity that can be relevant in a dissolution is whether marital funds have been expended in furtherance of the spouse’s infidelity, and whether the faithful spouse should be permitted to re coupe any funds spent by the unfaithful spouse in furtherance of the infidelity.
If you have any questions regarding dissolution, what a “no fault” divorce state means, or other general questions relating to family law, please contact our office at (954) 757-5551 to set up a consultation.