Articles Posted in Adultery

Divorce is often time filled with emotional turmoil.  Spouses are splitting up the property, the conversations can be heated, and at times children are thrown in the midst of this evolving chaotic environment. As an attorney I hear a variety of reasons attributed to the breakdown of a marriage. Often times finances, differing parental styles, general disdain, and infidelity cause irreparable rifts in even the most stable marriages. Contentious spouses come into my office constantly waiting to bring up every flaw and every wrongdoing of the other party. While an attorney’s office may be the first place many clients feel they can unload the weight of the marriage dysfunction, the courtroom is also a common place clients want to unload this weight, even though it may be to their own detriment.

Although the goal for the angry spouse seems riddled with vengeful desires, a skilled divorce attorney in Jacksonville would utilize caution and tact before bringing up the allegations made between the spouses in open court. An attorney must exercise judgment and apply the statutory considerations to every situation that arises. Whereas, one spouse may find it important to mention to the court that since the separation the other spouse has begun dating or that one spouse is engaging in a same sex relationship. A skilled attorney knows that while both of these situations stir the emotions swirling around the divorce mentioning these facts to the court may not be of the utmost importance.

Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means under Florida family law  if a party is seeking a divorce they do not have to prove specific grounds, other than that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”, for the court to grant the divorce. While the court may not care to hear of the other party’s indiscretions for the sake of deciding whether or not to grant the divorce, the court may be interested in these facts when considering other facets of the case. For example, the court may consider extramarital affairs and conduct of the other spouse when making a determination as to alimony and timesharing of the children. The court may consider a party’s extramarital relations if those relationships were conducted in a manner that caused harm to the child or marital funds were dissolved by the other spouse to maintain that extra-marital relationship.

Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney at Law

1260786_laptop_work.jpgAs a Jacksonville, Florida divorce lawyer I have seen social networking, such as Facebook, impact marriages and divorces significantly more in the last couple of years. In a Florida divorce, fault does not have to be alleged in a petition for divorce because Florida is a no-fault state. No-fault divorce is basically that the reason for the divorce is not generally necessary to be evidenced to the court. However, such things as gambling, adultery and the like can be alleged to show why one party should be awarded more than the other. Also, such things as disparaging comments about spouse, photographs of excessive drinking in front of children and the like can be used when parents are fighting over children. These allegations can be difficult to prove, but with social networking it can be much easier. In a recent article, “Can Facebook Ruin Your Marriage?” the issue seems to be impacting a number of marriages and divorces. Social networking sites have been used for many reasons including rekindling old relationships, developing new relationships, and posting dirty laundry of the marriage to friends and the world via page postings and status updates.

According to, “Can Facebook Ruin Your Marriage?” the word, “Facebook,” appeared in 33 percent of the 5,0000 divorces filed in 2011 for “unreasonable behavior” in Britain. This shows an increase from the 20 percent reported from a similar survey in 2009, thus showing the popularity of the site and its impact on divorces increasing over a short period of time. In the British study, the most common reasons that Facebook was cited in the divorce petition are as follows:

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Same-sex marriage in Florida is not recognized, which has posed a number of questions to Jacksonville and other Florida divorce attorneys about how to handle to such matters. The State of Florida originally initiated a statute defining that same-sex marriage would not be considered legally authorized or recognized in the state of Florida. That, not being enough, in 2008, Floridians voted by 62% to institute Amendment 2 to the Constitution, which gave us the language of Article I, Section 2, defining marriage as, “the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

As other states, like Vermont, have enacted the right for same-sex couples to forge in the bonds of matrimony, that marriage is not given full faith and credit in states like Florida. In accordance with Florida Statute 741.212, such marriages that are valid elsewhere are not considered valid if the couple decides to reside in Florida. Therefore, a legal marriage is not legally dissolved in Florida. This means that if the marriage is valid in another state and not recognized where the couple resides, for the marriage to be properly dissolved, the couple must move to a state where their marriage is legal. In places like Vermont, the residency requirement before filing for divorce is one year as opposed to six months in Florida. This can put a strain on the individuals if they were to have the marriage dissolved effectively. However, there may be arguments to say that since you reside in a State where the marriage is not recognized that there are no real reasons to have it properly dissolved because in essence, the marriage is void. In that situation though, the problem would be in dividing property, assets and debts, which can be divided equally or fairly in a divorce.

This leaves a great deal of difficulty for same-sex couples and could potentially be construed as unconstitutional and interfering with ones right to travel, which has been upheld as a constitutional right by the U.S. Supreme Court, beginning with U.S. v Guest, 383 U.S. 745 (1966).

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Historically in Florida and other States, adultery and divorce were much more closely correlated than they are today in the eyes of the law. In order to get a divorce in the past, the innocent party had to prove that their spouse committed some significant wrongdoing in order to seek legal approval for the termination of marriage. However, today Florida along with most other states has no fault divorce laws. In no fault divorce cases, there are certain legal requirements but these do not include proof of adultery or other fault. However, under some conditions the Florida family law court will consider adultery when adjudicating other issues such as alimony or child support.

The Florida Alimony rule provides that “the court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.” However, in order for the Florida family law court to give alimony based on the adultery, the adultery must have produced a financial loss to the innocent spouse.

When awarding child custody in Florida, the court will consider all factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child. One factor the court will take into consideration is “the moral fitness of the parents.” An act of adultery is likely to be a reflection on the moral fitness of a parent, but this factor alone is not enough to influence a court’s determination on custody. As the Florida Statutes suggest, there are a number of factors that a court will consider when determining the best interests of a child.

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Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

1260785_laptop_work.jpgAs a Florida divorce lawyer, I have seen Social media’s impact on marriages. Facebook, 2nd Life, dating sites, all making seeing what else is out there easy to locate in the confines of your office or home. Ease of dating makes ease of cheating even more realistic to couples. The impact can and has led to an increase in affairs and divorces are the result.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

1035694_wedding_rings_and_money.jpgFlorida divorces are decided as a no-fault matter. Florida no-fault law that rules divorces basically means that the reason for the divorce is not important in determining issues surrounding the divorce. In Florida, divorces separate assets and liability (debts) equally between the parties; alimony is based on a number of factors including the lifestyle of the parties during the marriage, the length of the marriage, etc.; and the time-sharing plan for the children is based on the best interest of the children. None of these factors are decided based on who did what during the marriage.

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In Florida, couples do not need a reason for divorce other than their marriage is over. In fact, Florida is a no-fault divorce state which means that even if the actions of one party led to the end of the marriage (an affair), that action is not considered in determining separating assets, debts or determining alimony (spousal support).

In a Florida divorce, the object is to separate marital assets and debts and put the parties in a position that is as fair as possible. Equitable distribution is the term used to divide the marital properties and works to do just that, equally divide the property (assets and debts) between the parties.

However, if one party uses marital money to benefit an affair, then the other spouse is entitled to half of the money used for said affair. For instance, if a wife uses $10,000 to travel with her boyfriend, then the husband is entitled to $5,000 of that money. In a divorce, if there is not $5,000 in cash available, then assets may be divided differently than 50/50 to make-up for the lost money. For example, if the assets total $20,000 then instead of $10,000 to each party, they may be divided so that a greater portion is awarded to the husband to compensate for the $5,000.

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In a no-fault state like Florida it is difficult to understand, as a family law attorney, why parties are willing to spend more money than they have to prove that a spouse was, in fact, having an extramarital affair. It is not to say that affairs are not personal or do not take personal tolls on the individual hurt by it, they do. However, to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for a court to hear the atrocity, when the reality is the affair will not have a bearing on the outcome of the case is scary.

Speaking as a professional interested in representing the client’s best interest, I think preserving the client’s money for what can really make a difference, counseling on the emotional aspects, is much better. I struggle with this issue as a family law attorney because I do not want to take advantage of the emotions associated with the divorce. The only way to avoid an attorney taking advantage of this situation, other than hiring an attorney like myself, is to take the emotion out of the divorce.

What do I mean by this? I simply mean that the divorce is a business transaction, you are seeking to dissolve a contract, that being the contract of marriage. I know that sounds cold, but the reality is, at the end of the day, it’s business. You are searching to protect your assets, finances, retirement, which again, is a business concept. The more you can remove the emotion from the action the less money the divorce will cost you in the end.

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Florida divorces do not mean alimony payments. Myths can be cruel to the outside world that is interested in pursuing a divorce. In Florida, there is no such thing as alimony being a certain. Myths such as the following list are created as scare tactics and used to create fear, fear would be having to pay alimony no matter what, fear would also be that you are not entitled to alimony, which is also dependent on Florida divorce law.

1. Is counseling needed before you can get divorced.

2. It matters if I or my spouse had an affair.

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Affairs during the marriage matter in a Florida divorce, another common myth tackled by a Jacksonville divorce lawyer. Yesterday, the counseling myth in divorces was discussed. Today, the myth that the affair will bring justice to the innocent spouse will be tackled. This week we will be focusing on the following myths and discuss the truth behind the myths:

1. Is counseling needed before you can get divorced.

2. It matters if I or my spouse had an affair.