When parties to a marriage are in the process of ending their union and the divorce petition has been filed, it may seem logical that the soon-to-be exes should feel free to date other people again. But the divorce is not legally final, so any relationship outside the marriage would still be extramarital.
Impact on alimony or property division
Florida’s alimony statute changed on July 1, 2023, to provide that if an adulterous relationship causes monetary loss to marital property, the court may consider that when determining an alimony award. For example, did a husband or wife spend a sizable chunk of the couple’s money on a paramour? A judge may feel that the negative economic impact on the other spouse from this depletion in marital funds justifies an alimony arrangement that makes up for the financial loss, such as a higher award.
While not referring specifically to adultery, the statute on property division (called equitable distribution) does direct the court to consider “intentional dissipation, waste, depletion or destruction of marital assets …” Arguably, spending funds on another romantic partner while married to another person could be an intentional dissipation or depletion of marital property justifying an unequal division of the marital estate.
Other potential ramifications
Issues growing out of adultery during divorce proceedings may not be immediately obvious. For example:
- The other spouse may develop negative feelings that result in a more difficult settlement negotiation or mediation.
- The other spouse may push the court for more parenting time if they worry about the children having overnights when the paramour is there or there are other objections to the kids having contact with them.
- Consciously or unconsciously, bias against or judgment of the unfaithful spouse may develop.
- And others
Parties on either side of this issue should seek legal advice from a family lawyer if this situation has arisen during the divorce process.