Florida is an equitable distribution state. In essence, what this means is that the marital property should be divided fairly or equitably – not necessarily equally. The division of property is based upon all the facts of the case and also takes into account the contribution of each spouse to the marriage. The division of marital property, any asset acquired during the marriage whether by one or both parties, is considered in conjunction with all other awards of both spouses to the marriage.
It is important to know that Florida is a “No-Fault” state, meaning that the infidelity of one spouse during a marriage will not affect how the property is divided. The reason marital fault is not listed under the equitable distribution statute, Fl. Stat. 61.075, is because if the division of property was divided based on fault it would have the effect of rewarding the innocent spouse and punishing the other – this is not the goal of equitable distribution. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the purpose of equitable distribution is not to punish an unfaithful spouse.
However, infidelity is relevant if it can be demonstrated that that the adulterer has depleted marital resources because of the affair. For example, one spouse who uses marital funds to purchase items that furthered the unfaithful spouse’s adulterous behavior can be used against the unfaithful in a trial court’s determination of equitable distribution. The spouse alleging the misconduct must show a casual connection between the other spouses infidelity and the couple’s finances.
Consult a Florida Divorce Attorney for any questions you may have regarding equitable distribution.