Divorces are always complicated, but they can be more so if they’re a result of cheating. Everything is more tense and difficult, including custody cases.
In Florida, you don’t need to prove your spouse cheated to get a divorce. Divorces can be sought for no reason at all, unlike in some other states. However, infidelity can have an impact on the results of a custody case. While it won’t always be considered, it can be worthwhile to know when a judge might allow it to influence their decision.
How Does Cheating Impact Custody Cases?
As per Florida law, all child custody cases are determined by the “best interests of the children”. It is up to the judge to decide what this looks like in terms of custody, but proving spousal unfaithfulness may impact the ruling. This isn’t always the case, though.
In many cases, cheating won’t be considered when determining custody. So unless you can make a real case for why your children should be kept away from your unfaithful spouse, the judge will likely overlook it.
If you do have good reasons for why your spouse shouldn’t be around the children, though, the judge will listen.
It’s important to remember that you’ll need to be able to prove your claims. You can’t simply say that the cheating parent’s infidelity had a negative impact on your child. Expect to be asked further details and to provide proof.
The simple fact that your spouse cheated isn’t reason enough to keep a child away from one of their parents. Below are a few reasons why cheating could become a factor in custody cases.
Unfit or Neglectful Parent
This must be directly linked to the affair. If a parent regularly forgot to pick up your children from school because they were with their partner, this could have an impact. If your children were exposed to the extramarital partner or they were put in an unsafe position because of the affair, this may also be considered when deciding custody.
If the cheating spouse’s partner is abusive or presents worrisome behaviors, the judge may consider this, especially if the partner is going to be living with the child’s parent.
Much of the time, the moral fitness of a parent is taken into consideration by the judge. If there’s a possibility that your children will be exposed to a parent’s multiple romantic partners, the judge may decide to limit their time with their children.
Exposing a child to numerous romantic partners over a short time can be unsettling and could be a factor in custody cases.
Ability to Meet a Child’s Needs
If the cheating spouse’s affair interferes with their ability to anticipate and meet their children’s needs, a judge will consider it. For example, suppose the cheating parent is regularly out of town to meet their partner, unable or unwilling to take part in their children’s interests, or isn’t willing to communicate. In that case, the judge may decide that they are unable to meet their child’s needs.
In such a case, the judge will give more custody and visitation rights to the parent that they deem capable of meeting their children’s needs. This includes participating in school events, proving they are interested in their child’s life, and ensuring they can safely and healthily raise their child.
Divorces are often messy when cheating is a factor. There will likely be tension throughout the process, and depending on the age of your children, they may not fully understand what’s happening.
While you work through your divorce, it’s important to have a good child custody attorney and know what could be presented against you. Whether you were the parent who cheated or not, your spouse may try to claim they are more fit to be a parent than you. With the right legal team and good preparation backing you, you can still have a claim to your child’s custody and visitation rights.