No matter where you live, divorce involves a lot of emotional and financial upheaval. Fortunately, Florida contains many resources that make divorce a little bit easier to navigate. Keep in mind that one party will have had to reside in Florida for at least six months prior to filing for divorce to satisfy Florida's residency requirement.
Florida is a pure no-fault divorce state. Rather than going into all the reasons why the marriage failed, the couple simply states that the marriage is "irretrievably broken."
Types of Divorce
Florida law permits two types of divorce. If your case meets certain requirements, you can bypass much of the time and expense involved in filing a traditional divorce complaint.
Florida's version of an uncontested divorce is known as "simplified dissolution of marriage." As its name indicates, this simplified version of divorce is much faster and easier than traditional forms of divorce. You can file a simplified divorce Petition if you and your spouse meet the following criteria:
- Both parties agree the marriage is over
- There are no minor children, and the wife is not currently pregnant
- Neither party seeks alimony from the other
- Both spouses have made a complete disclosure of all financial information, and each is satisfied with said information that the other has provided
- Both spouses agree on how to divide the assets and liabilities accrued during the marriage
- Both spouses waive the right to trial and appeal in the divorce case
- Both parties agree to sign the Petition
- Both parties agree to attend the final hearing together
The cost of simplified divorce in Florida is usually minimal. Once the parties file the initial paperwork to begin the simplified process, it generally takes the court less than 30 days to grant the dissolution of marriage.
If you and your spouse don't satisfy all the requirements for a simplified dissolution of marriage, you must file a regular petition for divorce. The Florida Courts website provides residents with free forms. If you have a computer, you can easily download a Petition and fill it out at home. After you file it with the court, you must "serve" a copy on your spouse via personal service.
- Each party's financial contributions to the marriage
- Each party's contributions to the home as a homemaker or taking care of minor children
- Each side's financial condition
- The length of the marriage
- Any gaps of employment in the marriage (ie if one spouse quit a career to stay home with children for example)
- Whether one side supported the other's education or career advancement
- Whether either side should retain any asset in whole
- Whether it's in the best interest of the children for one side to stay in the family home
- Whether either party intentionally depleted marital assets within two years of the divorce
- Any other relevant factors
To qualify for alimony, the spouse asking for alimony must prove that she needs financial assistance and that the paying spouse is financially capable of making the payments. Florida divorce courts have the authority to award several different types of alimony under Florida law. One of the main factors that determines whether or not a spouse receives alimony is the length of the marriage, which Florida courts define as being short (less than seven years), moderate (7 to 17 years) or long (17+ years). In addition, courts consider a variety of other factors to help determine what type of alimony and how much is appropriate in a given situation.
Child Custody and Support
Divorcing couples who have children must complete a Parent Education and Family Stabilization class. This class helps parents minimize the emotional impact of divorce on kids. Each parent must independently complete the course before the Florida divorce court will sign the final decree of divorce.
In Florida, as in all other states, courts use a best interest of the child standard to determine child custody issues. Florida law also presumes that both parents should share equally in parental responsibilities, including decision making about health, welfare, and religion.
Your Florida Divorce
Although many people start out assuming they can handle their divorce case, it's always a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable attorney. Florida has a wide array of resources that can help you work with your lawyer to resolve your case within a reasonable timeframe and budget.