September 2, 2015

What Role Does Infidelity Play in a Florida Divorce?

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Ashley Madison is a website that has been in existence since 2001. With the motto: "Life is short – Have an affair." It is a website dedicated to infidelity and extramarital affairs among its members. It has garnered as many as 37 million customers worldwide, the majority of which are located in the United States. The hackers have threatened to leak nude photos, sexual fantasies, real names and credit card information. The hackers have threatened to establish a searchable data site on the Internet. Consequently, the identification of the customers of Ashley Madison may become embarrassingly simple.

Infidelity and adultery can play havoc with the foundation of a secure marriage/relationship. It also can sound the "death knell" for a brittle or fragile relationship or marriage. Commentators have made it clear that there will be a number of divorces which will occur as the result of this data hack. In those states where divorces are granted only upon the fault of one of the parties (and adultery is considered to be one of the grounds for fault), infidelity can have a serious impact on the issues of alimony (whether you receive it and how much you may have to pay), Florida child custody/timesharing (in terms of who may end up being the majority timesharing or primary residential parent); who will be granted the divorce; and also, in many cases, attorney's fees.

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Other states (including Florida) are "no-fault" divorce states. Consequently, a Florida divorce can be acquired by either spouse in the event that irreconcilable differences exist between the two of them. One does not have to specifically prove that their "dearly beloved" has committed adultery or participated in another fault-based act. Nevertheless, trial courts in Florida and other "no-fault" states do consider adultery/infidelity under certain circumstances. Those circumstances include:

  • Wasting Marital Assets. If marital funds have been spent on the affair, the court considers such spending as a form of "intentional dissipation" or "waste" of marital assets. In such a case, during the division of assets and liabilities, the "innocent" spouse may be entitled to a larger share of the remaining marital assets;
  • Alimony. The court may consider infidelity when determining to award alimony and how much to award. In Florida, this often is not a major case unless the marital assets have been significantly dissipated or wasted;
  • Credibility. Evidence of infidelity or cheating or other dishonesty may be used to attack the credibility of the cheating spouse. Credibility concerns by a judge regarding one of the parties can have a wide-ranging impact on the court's willingness to "trust" the cheating spouse regarding other issues in the case and often will play a prominent factor when the evidence on any particular issue is extremely close and the judge is having difficulty deciding that particular issue; and
  • Moral Character. In some situations of infidelity (when particularly affiliated with other illegal behaviors), the court may call into question the moral character of the cheating spouse. Pursuant to Florida statutes, moral character can come into play when the trial court is deciding parental responsibility and timesharing/custody/visitation with the children born of the marriage.

Infidelity and the discovering of a cheating spouse seriously damage the trust relationship between two individuals. That breach of trust may never be healed. Consequently, the discovery of infidelity or adultery can cause trust and communication barriers to develop, harming the ability of the parties to cooperate and co‑parent in the best interest of their children during the divorce and afterwards.

In addition, the information hacked from Ashley Madison can have other serious ramifications on a marriage or divorce. Reports of attempted blackmail of individuals by the hackers have been circulating. The hackers now are requiring the payment of blackmail money to prevent the release of information concerning an individual's membership in AshleyMadison.com to prevent a divorce or loss of employment from happening.

Many individuals have morals clauses in their employment contracts. A membership in AshleyMadison.com could be considered a breach of this moral clause and cause for termination of employment.

The final fallout of the hacking and publication of the membership of AshleyMadison.com will take many months to be fully understood and/or concluded. However, it is clear that it will have a negative impact on many marriages and relationships and will result in an increased number of divorces and broken relationships in Florida and elsewhere.

 

Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss marital separation agreements, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312. 

 

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