Woman and man upset and sitting apart on the couch

What is Marital Misconduct?

When it comes to divorce, Florida is a no-fault state. This means you do not need to prove fault on the part of your spouse in order to be granted a divorce. All you need to assert is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. It does not matter who played what part in this nor do you have to prove fault. To say that Florida is a no-fault state, however, does not mean that the actions and behaviors of a spouse will not have a bearing on divorce proceedings. In fact, marital misconduct can play a big part in a divorce case.

What is Marital Misconduct?

Marital misconduct refers to action by a spouse that have negatively impacted the marriage or have caused the infliction of physical, financial, or emotional harm on the other spouse. Marital misconduct is either economic or non-economic in nature. Economic marital misconduct would involve the finances of the spouses. Examples of economic marital misconduct include:

  • Dissipation of marital assets
  • Concealment of marital assets
  • Intentional destruction to marital property
  • Spending marital funds on an affair
  • Excessive and unreasonable spending of marital funds

Non-economic marital misconduct does not necessarily impact the couple’s finances, but is damaging, nonetheless. Engaging in an extramarital affair is a common example of non-economic marital misconduct as is substance abuse and addiction. These are all things that can play a pivotal role in a number of issues central to the divorce process. If you suspect that your spouse has engaged in marital misconduct, you will need to gather sufficient evidence to support such an assertion and have it considered by the court during divorce proceedings.

Marital misconduct can come into play as the court makes important determinations relating to things like:

  • Child custody
  • Spousal support
  • Division of marital assets

Depending on the nature of the marital misconduct, Florida courts may compensate a non-offending spouse for the harm suffered due to the marital misconduct of the other spouse. For instance, if you can provide sufficient evidence that your spouse’s marital misconduct resulted in the excessive and unreasonable dissipation of marital assets, the court may divide the marital assets in such a disproportionate way as to compensate you for the loss of those dissipated marital assets. If you can provide sufficient evidence that the marital misconduct of your spouse shows a pattern of behavior that would be detrimental for your children to be around, the court may consider this in determining timesharing and visitation in child custody determinations.

In considering marital misconduct while making determinations during divorce proceedings, Florida courts will look to the circumstances surrounding the misconduct. The length and frequency of the misconduct, for instance, will be taken into account. The negative impacts of the misconduct will also be considered along with a number of other factors.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Do you suspect your soon-to-be former spouse of marital misconduct? Talk to the Florida family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou about how such behavior can be used in your divorce proceedings. Contact us today.

Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.