To obtain a divorce in Florida, a party only needs to prove that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Florida is a no-fault state and either party may obtain a divorce regardless of marital misconduct. However, that doesn’t mean misconduct will not have an effect on the outcome of the divorce.
If you have questions about dividing assets, child custody, or simply starting the divorce process in Okaloosa or Walton County, the fThe Wheeler Firm is here to help. Here are the basics of how different forms of marital misconduct can impact divorce proceedings:
Adultery, Drugs and Wasteful Activities
Many marriages end with one or both parties beginning an intimate relationship with another person. Although not a basis for the divorce itself, adultery can have an effect on the division of assets and liabilities if a party gives marital funds, directly or indirectly, to another person. For example, if a husband buys jewelry for a girlfriend or if a wife uses marital funds to pay for travel or a hotel with a boyfriend, this could lead to a finding of marital waste by the divorce judge. The trial court judge could then award the innocent spouse half of the value spent on the extramarital relationship (since the innocent spouse had an interest in half of the spent funds).
Drug usage is another form of marital misconduct. Most commonly, drug use can affect a party’s claim to children in a divorce. This is because a party under the influence of drugs may not be able to provide adequate care or supervision for minor children; it could also impact child custody modifications in the future. As with adultery, spending marital funds on drugs could result in liability for marital waste as well.
If either party conceals marital funds, that party could be charged with those funds by the trial court in the divorce judgment. For example, if in the weeks leading up to filing for divorce, a wife withdraws $40,000 of funds from a marital account and refuses to account for the funds, then the trial court could tax those funds to the wife in the equitable distribution scheme. In this example, the husband would then be entitled to $20,000 of additional assets or $20,000 less of the marital liabilities (to account for the husband’s equal interest in the $40,000). At trial, it is imperative to have adequate financial records available as exhibits to prove that the funds existed, and were not properly accounted for by your spouse.
Domestic violence includes both acts of violence, as well as threats of violence. A party’s act of domestic violence can drastically affect that party’s claim to child custody, as well as other parental rights and responsibilities. This is due to the safety threat posed to minor children by violent acts. The court could enter orders restricting the offending spouses rights to contact the children, or to be left unsupervised with the children, where the circumstances warrant such restrictions. If the innocent spouse or victim of domestic violence reasonably believes that they may be further victimized by domestic violence, then they may also pursue a domestic violence injunction to prohibit further acts of domestic violence.
If you are contemplating divorce and believe your spouse may have engaged in misconduct, we can help you account for that misconduct in your divorce. Contact The Wheeler Firm today for a consultation with an experienced family law attorney at (850) 613-6923, or CLICK HERE.