Adultery and No Fault Divorce in Florida

Adultery and No fault Divorce in Florida

By Diana Knowles Dunlop, Florida Family Law Attorney

Prior to Florida becoming a “no fault” state in the mid-1970’s, one spouse had to allege that the other spouse had done something wrong that had caused the marriage to become broken. If the Wife was an adulteress when Florida was a “fault” state, her adultery in and of itself was a legal reason for the judge to use to deny the Wife a request for alimony. See Pacheco v. Pacheco, Supreme Court of Florida, April 7, 1971, where the Supreme Court rules as constitutional the old alimony statute which stated in relevant part: ” . . . no alimony shall be awarded to an adulterous wife.” The old alimony statute also prohibited any alimony being awarded to a husband except in cases where the husband was insane. Presumably, under the old alimony statute, a particularly strong legal argument to award alimony to a Husband would have been when the Husband was found to have been made insane by the adulterous actions of his Wife.

Today, the current Florida alimony statute reflects the many changes made to the old alimony statute. The language as to “no alimony shall be awarded to an adulterous wife” has been removed. And, now, alimony can be awarded to a Husband, whether sane or insane. However, Fla.Stat. s. 61.08 did retain adultery as a factor for the judge to consider when deciding (1) whether or not to award some type of alimony, (2) what amount of alimony to order, and (3) for how long to order the alimony to be paid. In relevant part, Chapter 61.08 (1) states: “The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.”

The Effect of Adultery on a Dissolution Case, Today:

The difference in the effect of adultery on current dissolutions of marriage in Florida from what the effect of used to be is that, today, the judges focus on the economic effect caused by the adultery. If the adulterer spent marital funds on his or her paramour – bought gifts for him/her, took him/her on trips, paid living expenses for him/her, those payments depleted funds that the cheater should have used to increase the marital assets. If the marital assets are split 50/50, the innocent spouse has an equitable argument that he/she be paid one-half of the money the cheating spouse spent on girlfriend/boyfriend.

Phone 407 628-4300 for a free consultation as to how alimony and no fault divorce laws in Florida affect your specific situation.
Answers to the question, “What should I wear in court ?”

(Hint: Show Respect, Get Respect.)

By Attorneys Diana Knowles Dunlop and J. Erwin Dunlop. Copyright June, 2013.

General, quick answer: Proper dress for a court appearance is more formal than ordinary street clothes. Dress like you are going to a job interview for an executive position. A general rule: if you could wear it to the beach, don’t wear it into court.

The attorneys at Dunlop, Dunlop & Dunlop, P.A. have specific advice for what you should wear to court. This is developed from their extensive experience in representing people in court since 1995. These recommendations on what to wear in court are based on what works to give someone the best chance at showing that they respect the judge and the court proceedings. Showing that you respect the judge and the court proceeding is a legitimate and effective way to improve your image and gain for you respect from the judge. (Show respect; get respect.)

Specific Advice for Both Men and Women regarding how to dress when you go to court: Choose muted colors and simple patterns. No flashy jewelry. Take out body piercing jewelry or replace with small, plain studs. Pierced ears can have conservative jewelry in them. Cover tattoos, if possible. Do not wear a hat. Choose conservative fabrics. Avoid wearing denim (“jeans”) material as it is perceived as very casual. Avoid leather and fur — real and fake, as these fabrics can be perceived as too casual and can have aggressive or provocative associations. Do not wear clothing items that contain written words. Do not wear ribbons, pins, or symbols that send a specific message – wearing these types of items may cause the judge to think you are trying to gain the judge’s sympathy by wearing these items. This will backfire on you. Judges do not like it when people use inappropriate ways to try to manipulate the judge’s opinion. It should go without saying that you should wear clean clothing in good repair. However, some wealthy people have deliberately worn shabby clothing to court to try to make the judge think that they were poor. Again, do not try to use your clothing to try to manipulate a judge. The judge will see right through this trick.

How men should dress for a court appearance: Men should (1) wear a shirt and a tie, preferably a long-sleeved shirt and a regular tie. Tuck the shirt inside the pants, and be sure to wear a belt if the pants have belt loops; (2) wear long, regular pants – not jeans, not shorts; (3) wear hard soled, closed-top shoes – not sneakers, not sandals. Wear socks, but not white socks; and (4)wear the suit jacket to the pants or a conservative-colored sports jacket that goes with the pants. Men should wear long-sleeved jackets. No short-sleeved jackets should be worn by men in court, as they are perceived as too casual.

How women should dress for a court appearance: Women should (1) wear a non-sexy dress, or a non-sexy skirt and blouse, or a non-sexy pantsuit outfit – no low cut tops, no high slit skirts, no extremely short skirts, no outfits that expose or suggest that bare skin on the abdomen or rear end is likely to be exposed. Do not wear culottes, Capri pants, or shorts; (2) wear regular stockings or panty-hose. Avoid fishnet or overly-sexy stockings; (3) wear closed-toe or peep-toe shoes, either flats or heels. No sneakers, no sandals; (4) wear a jacket or sweater that coordinates with your outfit. If the dress or blouse has sleeves, women don’t have to wear a jacket, but if you have one that goes with the outfit, wear it. Women can wear a short-sleeved or a long-sleeved jacket in court.

Scarves and pocketbooks are acceptable accessories for women; however, you may not be able to take your pocketbook to the counsel table in the courtroom. Take out of your pocketbook paperwork that you want access to when you are at the counsel table.

“I’m afraid that if I dress in a suit, the judge will mistake me for an attorney or think that I’m trying to look like an attorney.”
Do not be afraid that if you wear a jacket and a tie that the judge will mistake you for an attorney. It is okay if you and your attorney are dressed similarly. Attorneys dress formally to get the respect of the judge. You want to do the same.

Take this advice on what to wear in court, seriously. Court proceedings are formal, methodical proceedings, and judges tend to be very touchy about anything that they may see as a lack of respect.

Written by J. Erwin Dunlop and Diana Knowles Dunlop, Florida divorce law and paternity law attorneys at Dunlop, Dunlop & Dunlop, P.A., 2431 Aloma Ave., Ste. 150, Winter Park, FL 32792; phone (407) 628-4300; Copyright 2013.

Ongoing Blog Topic: “How to Improve Your Chances at Getting the Best Outcome for Your Court Case.” by attorneys, J. Erwin Dunlop and Diana Knowles Dunlop.

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