Despite the sunny weather and boundless leisure activities, Florida is not insulated from the high divorce rate across the country. Whether you live in Miami or Tallahassee, the following article provides the basics of divorce for Florida residents.
Grounds for Divorce
Florida calls divorce a "dissolution of marriage." Florida is a "no fault" divorce state, which means that spouses only need to tell a court that the marriage is "irretrievably broken" in order to get a divorce. Some other states call this "irreconcilable differences." In this case, either spouse may file for the dissolution of marriage.
At least one spouse must be a Florida resident for at least six months before filing for a dissolution of marriage. If neither spouse meets the residency requirement, legal separation is an option in the meantime.
Dissolution of Marriage Process
Normally, a dissolution of marriage begins with a petition which states that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and describes what the petitioner would like from the court. The other spouse will file an Answer, which gives the second spouse the opportunity to reply to the petition.
Some spouses will agree on basic divorce issues, like separating propert, child custody, child support, and spousal support. If this is the case, the spouses will also submit a written agreement to the court. If the spouses agree on all terms of the divorce, the divorce may be final in only a few weeks. If the spouses do not agree on issues, the divorce may end in a trial.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
Some Floridians may end their marriage in a simplified procedure, called a simplified dissolution of marriage. It is available for spouses if:
- they both agree to the use of this form of dissolution proceeding;
- they have no minor (under 18) or dependent children;
- have no adopted children under the age of 18;
- the wife is not pregnant;
- at least one of the parties has lived in Florida for the past six months;
- the parties have agreed on the division of all of their property (assets) and obligations (debts); and
- both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and want to end their marriage because of serious permanent differences.
Dividing Property in Florida
Florida is an "equitable distribution" state, which means that courts will divide property in a way it believes to be fair, which is not necessarily an equal split. Some of the factors a court will consider are:
- The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker.
- The economic circumstances of the parties.
- The duration of the marriage.
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party.
- The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse.
- The desirability of retaining any asset, including an interest in a business, corporation, or professional practice, intact and free from any claim or interference by the other party.
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the non-marital assets of the parties.
- The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child
- The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition.
- Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Depending on the spouses' separate incomes, one spouse may owe the other spousal support, also known as alimony. When deciding to award alimony, and how much, a court will consider a number of factors, including:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
- The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
- The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common.
- The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment.
- All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Child custody and child support are common issues for parents facing divorce. Given the complexity of those issues, we have articles written specifically for Florida parents. Generally speaking, child custody is granted based on what is in the best interest of the child. Child support is calculated based on the income of both parents
If you would like to know more about your rights in a divorce, and want to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the divorce process, there are many divorce attorneys throughout Florida who may be able to help.