Cheating and Divorce

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, April 21, 2014.

Cheating on your spouse isn’t only a crime in the eyes of your spouse, in Florida, it’s a crime punishable by a fine or even jail time. Can it impact your divorce?

USA Today reports that the New Hampshire legislature voted last week to repeal its anti-adultery law, sending the bill to the governor, who is likely to sign it into law. Last year, Colorado repealed its anti-adultery law.

Anti-adultery laws are rarely enforced, and are properly seen as a vestige of our country’s Puritanical beginnings, says Naomi Cahn, a law professor at the George Washington University Law School.

In Florida, whoever lives in an open state of adultery shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree. Where either of the parties living in an open state of adultery is married, both parties shall be deemed to be guilty of the offense.

I’ve written about the impact of cheating and divorce before. In practical terms, adultery poses very little threat of prosecution, but it could have other consequences.

Cheating on your spouse can even be grounds for losing your job. This is particularly true in the military, where adultery has a maximum punishment of a dishonorable discharge.

Chapter 61 discusses the “the moral fitness of the parents” as one of the factors the court considers in determining the best interests of a child.

Adultery may impact the division of property. Proof that one spouse intentionally wasted marital assets could be seen as dissipation of assets.

Adultery of either spouse could be a factor in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.

Sometimes, evidence of adultery comes into evidence. Sometimes, it doesn’t. In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that sexual activity between consenting adults is legal. Whether Lawrence applies to anti-adultery laws is unknown.

The USA Today article can be read here.