Divorce can be difficult. In addition to complicated emotions, it often involves the potential for worrisome financial woes and protracted litigation. If you've decided to file for divorce in Florida, here's what you should know about the requirements and legal process for dissolving a marriage in the Sunshine State.
To file for divorce in Florida, either you or your spouse must have been a resident for at least six months or be a member of the military who's currently stationed in the state. Florida allows you to prove your residency—and eligibility for divorce—with a valid driver license, voter registration card, state identification card, or a signed affidavit or testimony from a trusted third party.
Grounds for a Florida Divorce
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means you don't have to get into the nitty-gritty details of what went wrong in the marriage in order for the court to grant your divorce petition. All you and your spouse have to do is agree that there are irreconcilable differences and, as a result, the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
However, if you and your spouse share children or one of you disagrees that the marriage is beyond repair, the court may order you both to undergo counseling with a marriage counselor, psychologist, minister, priest, or rabbi for up to three months.
Florida will also grant a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage if your spouse has been mentally incapacitated for three or more years.
Time-Sharing Plans and Child Support
Ideally, you and your spouse will come to a mutually beneficial agreement regarding child custody and visitation, which is known as “time-sharing” in Florida. If you and your spouse are unable to work together to make these important decisions, the court will do it for you, acting in what it believes are the “best interests” of the child.
Unless there is a reason to believe it would be harmful to the child in question, the state believes that children can benefit from frequent and continuing contact with both parents after a divorce. To that end, the court will often implement time-sharing plans that encourage both parents to share child-rearing rights and responsibilities as equally as possible.
For child support, Florida judges use official state guidelines, as well as both parents' incomes and the child's health and child care costs, to determine how much each parent should pay.
In Florida, the court considers a number of factors when determining whether alimony—also known as spousal support—is appropriate. These factors include the marriage's length and standard of living, as well as each spouse's age, health, education, parenting responsibilities, financial resources and sources of income, behavior, and contributions to the marriage.
Division of Marital Assets and Debts
The court uses the term “martial assets” to refer to both assets and debts acquired by either spouse during a marriage. In a Florida divorce, marital assets are divided evenly between both parties, unless a judge determines that there's a basis for unequal distribution. Additionally, each spouse may be able to retain the assets they had before the marriage as non-marital assets—if these assets were kept separate from marital property during the marriage.
Other Things to Consider
- In Florida, the length of an average divorce ranges from two months to more than two years. The more amicable the split, the less time it takes to finalize the divorce.
- Generally, the longer and more complicated the litigation, the higher the cost of the divorce.
- A Florida divorce can affect your tax filing status. Consult an accountant, as well as an experienced divorce attorney to avoid making potentially costly tax mistakes.
Request a Complimentary Case Review
At Good Life Legal Services, we want to do more than just help you “win” your divorce case—we want to help you truly flourish. Our small business background and mindset enables us to see the big picture, and our practical, common-sense approach to divorce delivers the creative and efficient legal solutions you deserve. Want to find out how we can help you through a Florida divorce? Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.