No Fault Divorce? What does that mean?

In a Florida divorce proceeding, you will hear the term "No Fault" - a lot. However, what does this term really mean?

In a Florida divorce proceeding, you will hear the term “No Fault” – a lot. However, what does this term really mean?

You made a commitment to become married, and probably made many sacrifices. Is it fair to hear that your partner’s infidelity doesn’t matter? What about a spouse who has not been honest about his or her finances? Does that count?

I hear these arguments on a regular basis.

No Fault means the Courts will not look into why someone filed for divorce. This protects the parties from fighting over the past, and it helps them keep the focus on more important issues.

Since Florida is a no-fault state, adultery does not affect most decisions. If the adulterer spends marital funds or uses marital assets in the course of their behavior – that will affect the decision of the court.

And with parenting time, for example, the focus is on determining what is in the best interests of the children. (See Florida Statute)

Fashioning a Parenting Plan

There are twenty criteria which the Courts use to fashion a parenting plan. They include things like the capacity of parents to act on the kids’ needs, and whether a parent promotes a relationship with the other parent.

Another big item is how much a parent knows and understands their child. Imagine how hard it would be to fashion a parenting plan if it was based solely on someone’s fault. After all, someone can be a lousy spouse, but a good parent.

Child Support and Private Schools

Child support, likewise, is based on income and not fault. In every case, a child support worksheet must be filed. Key parts of any child support calculation are the parents’ incomes, the number of overnights each parent has the children, daycare costs, and health insurance costs. Other items can be added if those expenses are in the children’s best interests.

One that comes up often is tuition for private schools. I think a parent has a better chance of having such an expense added if the child is already enrolled in a private school; however, no two cases are alike.

Dividing Assets

Florida is one of a majority of states that does its best to divide assets between spouses in a manner that is fair and equitable. Parties to a divorce need to consider the tax consequences of any such division.

Despite the No Fault standard, Court decisions are ultimately based in what’s called equity. This means fairness. Every judge I have seen uses the law and a good dose of common sense and decency. This provides a good balance between focusing on the right things (like what is best for a child), and providing a sense of justice for all.