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Florida Divorce Laws

All states have legal requirements you must meet before filing for divorce. The specifics of these laws vary from state to state. Getting a divorce in Florida is no different.

The divorce process is complex regardless of where you live. The complexity of your divorce will depend on the length of the marriage, whether you have minor children, and what kind of marital property you and your spouse own together.

Here, we’ll discuss the legal requirements for divorce (dissolution of marriage) in Florida. We’ll also explain the no-fault grounds for divorce, the required waiting period, and residency requirements. Finally, we’ll describe how the Florida family courts handle such issues as child custody, alimony (spousal support), equitable distribution of marital assets, and child support.

Florida Divorce Laws: At a Glance

Florida Statute Section 61.011 et seq. covers divorces, child custody, and other family law matters. To learn more about divorce requirements in general, review our article on state requirements for divorce.

Below is a summary of Florida divorce laws:

Residency Requirements

All states have a residency requirement for divorce. Florida Statute 61.021 covers the residency requirement. In Florida, one or both spouses must be in-state residents for at least six months before filing for divorce.

Before the Florida court clerk adds your divorce case to the docket, they require certification that you meet this requirement. You can achieve this using your driver’s license, voter registration card, or other formal documents.

Waiting Period

Florida requires a 20-day mandatory cooling-off period after you file your petition for dissolution of marriage. The courts hope that this waiting period will give couples a final chance to try to rectify their marriage. The waiting period helps prevent people from filing for divorce in the heat of the moment.

This also gives the respondent (non-filing party) 20 days to file their answer. The courts won't issue a final judgment for divorce before the 20 days are over. However, the court has the authority to finalize the divorce sooner if an injustice would result from the delay.

Family Law Financial Affidavit

Some states require you to file a case information statement with your divorce petition. Florida law requires you to file a Family Law Financial Affidavit. This document includes your financial information, such as income, marital assets, and liabilities.

The affidavit gives the judge a picture of your economic circumstances. This helps them determine things like spousal support, child support, and other financial issues.

Your spouse must provide this affidavit when they file their answer. This is the case whether you file an uncontested divorce (simple dissolution) or a contested divorce (regular dissolution).

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce

Florida only offers two grounds for divorce. Most couples report that their marriage is irretrievably broken. This means you’ve taken reasonable steps to repair the marriage to no avail.

The second ground for divorce in Florida requires that the courts have declared your spouse mentally incapacitated more than three years before you file your petition.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage and Regular Dissolution of Marriage

Most states use terms like uncontested and contested divorce, but Florida uses different terminology. As explained above, the two types of divorce in Florida are a simple dissolution and a regular dissolution.

To file a simple (or simplified) dissolution of marriage, your divorce attorney must demonstrate the following:

  • There are no minor or dependent children
  • Both parties agree to the simple divorce
  • Both spouses agree on the division of property and debts
  • The wife is not pregnant
  • The filing party or spouse meets the residency requirement
  • Neither party is requesting alimony
  • Parties agree that the marriage is broken

If you qualify for a simple dissolution, you may receive your final divorce decree in a few months. If you file a contested or regular divorce, it can take several months or years. The length of time a divorce takes, from start to finish, is often dependent on the number of and complexity of issues that must be resolved by the judge.

Alimony and Spousal Support

Under Florida law, there are several types of spousal support.

The types of alimony available in Florida include:

  • Temporary alimony
  • Bridge the Gap
  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Durational alimony

Permanent alimony was an option up until 2023 when the legislature did away with it. The court may order alimony for up to 75% of the length of a marriage that is classified as long-term (20 years or more). The court may extend alimony beyond that only in very rare circumstances that are outlined in the Florida code.

Who Pays Alimony and Who Receives It?

The court may order the party with more significant financial resources to pay alimony to the other party. It depends on a host of factors, including:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Income of the parties
  • Education and work history
  • Earning potential
  • Share of marital assets post-divorce

Your divorce lawyer will fight to get you as much support as possible.

Child Custody and Child Support

Child custody falls under Florida Statute 61.13. Florida does not use the term “custody.” Instead, Florida law refers to this as “time-sharing.” The presumption is that a child needs to spend time with both parents. This does not mean that the court always grants equal physical custody.

The courts refer to the “Best Interest of the Child” standard and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Your attorney can submit a parenting plan to the judge for approval. The judge will typically approve a parenting plan if both parties agree. The courts want to ensure that the parties will honor their parental responsibilities.

Divorce and Property Division

Equitable distribution of property doesn't mean it's a given that each spouse receives half of the marital assets and debts. It means that the judge will divide your assets fairly. The same applies to your debts, such as personal loans, credit card debt, etc.

Florida Statute 61.075 governs the division of marital property and the division of non-marital assets. The courts presume that marital property should be divided equally unless there is a valid reason not to do so. According to this statute, the courts will consider the following when making this determination:

  • Duration of marriage
  • The parties’ contributions to marital assets/liabilities
  • Interruptions of the spouses’ education and careers
  • Financial circumstances of each party
  • Intentional destruction or dissipation of assets
  • Contribution to the other spouse’s career or educational opportunities

Your attorney will negotiate with your spouse’s lawyer to divide the property. In most cases, it is to your advantage to try and negotiate a divorce settlement as opposed to having the judge make a decision. It's rare for a judge to divide marital assets the way you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse want them to.

Get Legal Help With Your Divorce Case in Florida

Getting a divorce is rarely pleasant. Things can go wrong if you don't have the proper representation. It's a good idea to talk to a skilled divorce lawyer in Florida to help understand divorce laws and procedures and how they may affect your case.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. We strive to provide the most current information. Please consult an attorney to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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