Do I Have To Pay Alimony If My Spouse Commits Adultery?
This question was posed to us recently by a potential client and I felt like it would make a great item to include on our site. This is because this is a common area of concern for men and women facing divorce where the other spouse has committed adultery.
This information can certainly translate over and be applicable for wives as well as husbands who are in the same situation.
In Florida, when a divorce judge is considering a claim for spousal support there are many different factors that they will look at including but not limited to a spouse’s need for alimony, the other spouse’s ability to pay alimony, the length of the marriage, the standard of living or lifestyle established during the marriage, the delegation of parental responsibilities after the divorce, whether anybody sacrificed or gained in their career or education as a result of the efforts of the other spouse, the division of marital assets, and the list goes on.
For a more detailed look at the factories that divorce records use to consider alimony claims, you can review the Florida statute on alimony.
Included in the list of factors that the courts consider for alimony is whether any marital misconduct occurred which includes adultery. Because the list of alimony factors is so long and complicated it will be important for you to enlist the assistance of an Orange County divorce lawyer to assist you in your situation.
My experience on this issue is that even though the statutory factors include marital misconduct such as cheating, the trial court judges usually do not give much weight or consideration to cheating when it comes to an alimony claim.
I have heard judges make statements such as “I’m not going to penalize a spouse who cheated because I don’t know what was going wrong in the marriage that caused that spouse to go out and cheat”.
What I take from these types of experiences is that even though the judge can consider cheating in an alimony claim they usually do not want to go that far into people’s dirty laundry as that would force them to take the analysis deeper into people’s personal affairs than they care to.
It seems to me that in the old days adultery was given much more weight in these types of cases than it is today. This means that the answer to the question posed is; yes, even if your spouse has committed adultery you will still be just as likely to pay alimony as you would with no cheating if your case fits in with the statutory factors for alimony determination.
Some of the analyses that we use to determine whether a case is an “alimony case” is to look at the incomes and whether one spouse earns disproportionately more income than the other. Next, we will look at how long the parties were married. If it was a short-term marriage then the likelihood for any significant alimony goes down in most cases. However, if the parties were married for more than seven years they will fall into a moderate-term marriage which means that the requesting party has a stronger claim for durational alimony which can last up to the length of the marriage.
When a marriage has lasted more than 16 years it will fall into the classification as a long-term marriage and there does arise a presumption in favor of permanent alimony. In some cases, even if the spouse is young enough and able to work, permanent alimony is appropriate. .
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Sean Smallwood is an Orlando divorce attorney for the law firm Sean Smallwood, Orlando Divorce & Family Law P.A. where he represents clients in all areas of family law and divorce. 100% of the practice is devoted to family law. As an attorney in Orlando, he has helped many families with a wide variety of family law cases including Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, and many other issues.