No Fault Divorce
What is a No-Fault Divorce?
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means it does not recognize at-fault divorces. To understand what these terms mean and why they were important, we have to go back in time to how divorces were traditionally done.
It wasn’t too long ago that getting a divorce was a huge social stigma. States wouldn’t allow couples to get a divorce unless one of the partners could prove that certain specific circumstances happened that caused a full breakdown of the divorce. That would mean that the reason for the divorce was the other partner, which lifted some of the social stigma from the partner that wasn’t at fault.
The classic at-fault reason was catching your spouse being adulterous, but there were other reasons such as:
* Habitual drug or alcohol use
* Discovery that the partners are too-closely related
* Wife pregnant by another man without the husband’s knowledge
* Cruel treatment
However, forcing an at-fault reason to be present to end a marriage ended up trapping a lot of couples in unhappy circumstances, or even driving them to commit acts like these just to get out of the marriage.
Thus, states began to allow something called no-fault divorces. It’s a declaration to the court that the marriage has broken but for reasons that are personal to the couple. Each state interprets no-fault marriage differently. In Florida, there has to be an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage in order for a divorce to proceed.
Florida, in fact, doesn’t recognize at-fault divorce at all. Some states do recognize both so that if a spouse does act in a terrible manner they can receive extra punishment. Florida does not, at least not directly. While a couple can divorce easily under no-fault rules, if an at-fault reason can be proven it can weigh into how the courts decide questions of time sharing, asset division, and alimony. However, it’s not as simple as just proving the act happened.
For time sharing questions, one of the things the court looks at is the moral fitness of the partners. If someone is proven to the court to be a drug abuser, or freely sleeps with many partners despite being married, they may feel that exposure to these influences would not be good for the well-being of the children. The court could then adjust the amount of time spent with children more in the favor of the other partner, and increase the amount of child support that must be paid by the less-moral partner.
With questions surrounding money, if the acts that led to the irretrievable breakdown robbed you of assets that you have a claim to, that can also play into the court’s decision. If we take an example of adultery, adultery alone isn’t enough to alter the amount of alimony you’d receive. However, if you can prove that the other partner spent a lot of money on the adulterous relationship and it threatened your financial well-being, that would be something the courts would take under consideration.
Don’t let the fear of not having an at-fault option prevent you from getting a divorce. If you can prove that your spouse did traditional at-fault actions in your case, you may be able to get a divorce settlement that is much more in your favor. Call our offices for a free consultation if have questions regarding this topic.