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Divorce in Florida

Despite the sunny weather and boundless leisure activities, Florida still has a high divorce rate. Whether you live in Miami or Tallahassee, the following article provides the basics of divorce for Florida residents.

Grounds for Divorce

Most states offer half a dozen grounds for divorce. This is different in Florida. Florida is a "no-fault" divorce state. You don't have to prove your spouse did anything wrong to file for divorce.

There are only two grounds for divorce, or "dissolution of marriage," in Florida. One option is to claim that your marriage is "irretrievably broken." Most states call this irreconcilable differences. This means there is no way to fix the marriage.

The second option is to show that the courts have declared your spouse mentally incompetent. This must have begun more than three years before you file your divorce petition.

Residency Requirement

For a Florida divorce, you must show that at least one spouse lived in Florida for six months or longer. Florida does not recognize "legal separation." As long as one party has been a resident of Florida for at least six months, either party can file without a waiting period.

Dissolution of Marriage Process

In the state of Florida, the first thing you must do in a divorce is file a petition for dissolution of marriage. Your divorce petition must state that your marriage is irretrievably broken. It must also describe what you want from the court and include a signed "Family Law Financial Affidavit."

When you file your petition, you must serve a copy of it on your spouse. You can do this via sheriff or a process server.

Once your spouse gets your petition, they have 20 days to respond. Their answer must specifically respond to your petition. Their answer must also include their financial affidavit. If your spouse doesn't file an answer, your divorce attorney can ask the court to issue a default judgment.

This judgment is like a final judgment for divorce and will end the marriage. It is rare for a spouse to ignore a divorce petition. They usually want to ensure that the terms of the marriage dissolution are fair.

Some spouses will agree on fundamental divorce issues. These typically include the following:

  • Division of property
  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Spousal support (alimony)

If you agree with your spouse, you and your spouse may submit a signed marital settlement agreement to the court for approval. If the spouses agree on all divorce terms, the divorce may be final in a few weeks. If the spouses disagree on issues, the divorce will take much longer. You may have to go to trial.

The Florida courts want to avoid trials if possible. This is why divorce lawyers work hard to negotiate a settlement.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

There are cases in which you can file a petition for a simplified dissolution of marriage. This is Florida's version of an uncontested divorce.

This type of divorce is available for spouses if:

  • Both spouses agree to a simple dissolution
  • You have no minor children or dependent children
  • You meet the residency rule
  • You agree on how to divide your marital assets and debts
  • You both agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and want to end the marriage

Usually, people file this type of case when the marriage is short. If you still have issues to work out with your spouse, you'll need to file for a contested divorce. You can file a regular dissolution of marriage petition instead of a simplified dissolution petition. These divorce cases involve child custody issues or disagreements over how to split marital property.

Dividing Property in Florida

Florida is an "equitable distribution" state. This means courts will divide property fairly. This doesn't mean they'll divide property 50/50. The judge will consider several factors when deciding how to divide your debts and assets.

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 homemakers
  • Economic circumstances of the parties
  • Length of the marriage
  • Either party's interruptions of careers or education
  • Contribution of one spouse to the career or education of the other spouse
  • The parties' desirability to keep any asset — such as a business — free from interference by the other party
  • Contribution to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income
  • Contribution to the improvement of marital assets and non-marital assets
  • Responsibility for incurring marital liabilities
  • The desirability of keeping the marital home for a dependent child
  • The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition (or within two years before filing the divorce petition)
  • Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties

Your Florida divorce attorney will know how assets may get divided during divorce proceedings. They typically know how specific judges handle equitable distribution and will use this to their advantage. They will consider these factors when filing your divorce papers.

Spousal Support (Alimony)

Florida law allows several types of alimony or spousal support. Depending on the spouses' separate incomes, one spouse may owe the other spousal support.

When deciding to award alimony, the judge will consider several factors, including:

  • The standard of living 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
  • The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties
  • The time necessary for either party to get enough 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
  • Each party's parental responsibility for minor children or dependent children with special needs
  • 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

In Florida, there are four types of spousal support. These include:

  • Bridge the Gap (temporary) — This support only lasts until the final hearing for divorce. Its purpose is to help transition the receiving spouse to being single again.
  • Rehabilitative alimony — This support helps the spouse with the lower income become more self-sufficient via further education in some cases.
  • Durational — Short-term support with a definite end date. The amount of time spousal support payments may last depends on the length of the marriage. A judge can't order alimony for a marriage that lasted less than three years. Ten years is short-term. Ten to 20 years is considered moderate-term, and a marriage of 20 years or longer is long-term. Alimony may not exceed 50% of the length of a short-term marriage, 60% of a moderate-term marriage, or 75% of a long-term marriage.
  • Permanent alimony — In July 2023, Florida did away with permanent alimony. The court has the authority to extend durational alimony beyond the lengths discussed, but only in very rare circumstances that may not apply to your case.

Your family law attorney will demand spousal support in your initial petition.


Child custody and child support are common issues for parents facing divorce. Generally, the court grants child custody and visitation based on the child's best interests. The judge bases child support on the income of both parents. Child care and health insurance expenses are also factored into determining the amount of child support.

The courts use state child support guidelines to determine the amount of child support. The parent who has primary custody of the children is the one to get child support payments.

Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in Florida

If you want more information on your rights in a divorce, hire a lawyer. An experienced divorce attorney can help you navigate separation to divorce.

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