Who Is at Fault When Nobody’s to Blame?
One of the questions asked most during initial consultations is: “Does my spouse’s infidelity matter?” It’s a fair question, given the pain infidelity can cause. While televisions shows like “Jerry Springer” and “Cheaters” make light of spouses who don’t honor their vows, for the cheater’s other half the issue isn’t funny and demands attention.
Without a doubt, the party who has been “cheated on” has every right to be hurt or even angry, and the desire to see the cheating spouse held accountable is understandable. The same goes for parties who have been victimized by emotional affairs, disengaged spouses, or a just plain “bad marriage.”
Infidelity Irrelevant in Orlando?
However, Florida’s divorce laws render a spouse’s infidelity, and the other reasons marriages fall apart, largely irrelevant in a divorce proceeding. That’s because Florida is a “no fault” divorce state, which means the reason behind the failure of your marriage is of little importance to the Court. The Court will ask only if your marriage is “irretrievably broken,” and if either party wants a divorce, that desire is enough to “break” the marriage for legal purposes.
The Court generally does not make judgments about the health of your marriage or whether divorce is right for you, and it almost never engages in a discussion about whether counseling or other steps might save your marriage. Unfortunately, in Florida, if one spouse “wants out” of a marriage, there is little the other spouse can do, through the legal system, to stop them. Many people (including yours truly) believe we have made it too easy for people to end their marriage, but that is the current state of Florida’s law.
I write the above not to discourage anyone, or steal hope from a spouse holding on in a difficult situation. It’s actually quite the opposite. My hope in explaining Florida’s “no fault” divorce laws is to encourage those in struggling marriages to get help before considering legal options. Unless you are in an abusive situation or have been abandoned without the means to support yourself and/or your children, I urge you to explore non-legal ways to address your marital issues.
Seek out the counsel of trusted clergy or a professional counselor. Consider programs like the “Fireproof” or “Courageous” studies to see if they might be useful. Enlist friends and relatives to help you communicate with your spouse about your desire and commitment to salvage your marriage and keep you family together.
Whatever you do, don’t give up on your marriage and family just because the road gets rough. Divorce is too important a decision to make lightly, and it’s too difficult a process to endure as anything other than a last resort. If you need help figuring out the right thing to do in your situation, please contact one of the family law professionals at The Marks Law Firm so we can talk about what you can do to preserve your family and protect your marriage.