When a marriage ends due to a cheating spouse, many wonder whether the adultery will affect how much alimony they receive or pay. As with most questions about the law, the answer is “It depends”.
The primary consideration when alimony is at issue is need and ability to pay - the need of the spouse asking for alimony and the ability of the other spouse to pay it. Once it is determined there is a need and an ability to pay the court must consider the following factors listed in Florida Statute 61.08:
a) The standard of living established during the marriage.
(b) The duration of the marriage.
(c) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
(d) The financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
(e) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
(f) The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
(g) The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
(h) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
(i) All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
(j) Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
How does adultery affect this determination? A court can take into account the circumstances of a spouse’s cheating when determining the amount of alimony to be awarded. So if the paying spouse cheated and spent marital money on the affair, the court might take this into consideration in awarding a higher amount of alimony than would be awarded if cheating was not an issue. On the other hand if the spouse asking for alimony was the cheater under the same circumstances, the court might decrease the alimony.
What if you want to make sure no alimony is paid if there is adultery? Probably the best way to do that is through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
The bottom line is alimony and all considerations that go into deciding it are case-specific. To learn about how alimony might be decided in your specific case, consult with a Florida spousal support lawyer.