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Does it matter who is to blame for our divorce?

In any divorce, there is a powerful impulse to point fingers and try to prove -- to yourself, to your loved ones or to the courts -- who is to blame for the demise of a marriage. However, understand that it is not necessary to prove fault in a Florida divorce in order to seek dissolution of the marriage, as Florida is a no-fault divorce state.

This is not to say that fault is completely irrelevant. Under some circumstances, the reason for your divorce can affect elements of the settlement, including finances and child custody.

How fault can affect your finances

If your marriage is ending because of abuse, infidelity or similar behaviors, then the victim or non-offending party can be in a position to secure more money.

In some cases, this might be explained in a prenuptial agreement that specifies financial penalties or awards in the event of marital misconduct; in other cases, the courts might award alimony or a larger share of the marital estate to the person who was mistreated. 

How fault can affect child custody

Courts award custody based on the best interests of the child. Generally, this means both parents will have frequent and continuing contact with the child.

However, if reports related to domestic violence, substance abuse or criminal misconduct are involved in the split, then the offending party may see his or her parenting time and rights compromised. This is because it may not be in the best interests of a child to be with a parent who is dangerous or unable to provide suitable care.

Don't let finger-pointing control your divorce

It can be very easy to focus on proving the faults, shortcomings and misdeeds of your ex when you are pitted against each other in a divorce. However, simply put, you do not need to prove fault in order to have grounds for divorce in Florida. Further, the courts have a very different view on fault and personal flaws, and oftentimes they are less relevant than people expect.

Working with an attorney can help you determine if and how blame or fault may be relevant during your divorce. It can also help you stay focused on finding the fair resolution you deserve.

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