Florida Divorce Law
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By DivorcedMoms, Senior Editor - September 24, 2013 - Updated October 05, 2013

Florida.jpgResidency Requirements for Divorce

One of the spouses must have been a resident for 6 months prior to filing for dissolution of marriage. The dissolution of marriage should be filed in either: (1) the county where the defendant resides or (2) the county where the spouses last lived together prior to separating.

Legal Grounds for Divorce

No Fault Divorce:        

  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.[Florida Statutes Annotated; Chapter 61.052].

 

General Divorce:       

  • Mental incapacity for at least 3 years. [Florida Statutes Annotated; Chapter 61.052].

Legal Separation in Florida:

A spouse may file for separate maintenance and child support. This is a rare occurrence in Florida since there are no legal separation laws on the books. Normally what happens is, one spouse files for “separate maintenance” or child support and the other spouse will counter-sue for divorce.

Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Florida:

Florida has a procedure for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. In order to qualify to use this procedure, the spouses must certify that:

  • There are no minor or dependent children of the spouses and the wife is not pregnant
  • The spouses have made a satisfactory division of their property and have agreed as to payment of their joint obligations
  • That 1 of the spouses has been a resident of Florida for 6 months immediately prior to filing for dissolution of marriage
  • That their marriage is irretrievably broken

Both spouses must appear in court to testify as to these items and file a Certificate of a Corroborating Witness as to the residency requirement. Each must also attach a financial affidavit to the Simplified Dissolution Petition. Specific forms and an instruction brochure are available from the Clerk of any Circuit Court. In addition, sample forms for various aspects of a standard dissolution of marriage are available in the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. Financial disclosures are now mandatory in Florida.

Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements in Florida:

If there are minor children involved, or if one spouses denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may delay the proceedings for up to 3 months and may order the spouses to seek counseling, order the spouses to attempt reconciliation, or order the spouses to attend mediation sessions.

Alimony/Spousal Support in Florida

In Florida the court has broad discretion to decide one’s entitlement to alimony, the amount of alimony, the duration of alimony, and the type of alimony.  The court may grant rehabilitative or permanent alimony to either spouse in either lump-sum or periodic payments or both. Adultery is a factor in the award. Other factors which are considered are:

  • The time necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment and that spouse’s future earning capacity
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market
  • The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including services rendered in homemaking, childcare, education, and career-building of the other spouse
  • The age of the spouses
  • The physical and emotional conditions of the spouses
  • Each spouse’s share of marital assets and liabilities
  • Any other factor the court deems just and equitable

Alimony payments made be ordered to be paid through a state depository.  In determining a proper award of alimony, the court must consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.

Child Custody in Florida:

Joint or sole custody may be granted. Joint custody is referred to as “shared parental responsibility” and is preferred over sole custody. Both parents are given equal consideration in any award of custody. Custody is granted according to the best interests of the child, based on the following factors:

  • Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the non-residential parent
  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties between the parents and the child
  • The ability and desire of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical or remedial care, and other material needs
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home
  • The mental, physical, and moral fitness of the parents
  • The home, school, and community record of the child
  • The preference of the child if old enough to understand and express a preference
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship with the other parent
  • Any evidence that a parent has supplied false information to a court regarding domestic violence
  • Any evidence of spouse or child abuse
  • Any other relevant factors

No preference is to be given because of parent’s sex. Grandparents may be awarded visitation. Custody and visitation may not be denied based on the fact that a parent or grandparent may be infected with human immunodeficiency virus.

Child Support in Florida:

The court may order either parent to pay child support during and after a divorce proceeding in an equitable amount, based on the nature and circumstances of the case. There are specific child support guidelines set out in Florida Statutes Annotated; Chapter 61.30. In addition, there are specific factors for consideration upon which the child support guidelines may be adjusted:

  • Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses
  • Independent income of the child
  • The custodial parent receiving both child support and spousal support
  • Seasonal variations in a parent’s income or expenses
  • The age of the child, taking into consideration the greater needs of older children
  • Any special needs of the family
  • The terms of any shared parental arrangement
  • The total assets of the parents and the child
  • The impact of any IRS Dependency Exemption
  • Any other reason that should be considered in order to make the child support payments equitable

Health insurance for the child and life insurance covering the life of the parent ordered to pay support may be required by the court. Child support payments may be ordered to be paid through a state depository.

Property Distribution in Florida:

Florida statutes and case law provide for an “equitable distribution” of marital assets and liabilities. Marital property should be divided fairly or equitably (not necessarily equally) between the parties, regardless of how title is held. A court decides equitable distribution before considering alimony. Equitable distribution is based on a long list of factors the court is required to consider. Factors to be considered by the court include the contribution of each spouse to the marriage and:

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of the spouses
  • The amount and sources of income of the spouses
  • The estate, liabilities, and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The time necessary for a spouse to acquire sufficient education to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment
  • Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the spouses

Marital misconduct is not specified as a factor in any division of property. There are also specific rules which govern whether a party is entitled to setoffs or credits upon the sale of the marital home. Regarding credit or setoffs upon the sale of a marital home, the court shall consider the following factors:

  • Whether exclusive use or possession of the home is awarded and the basis for such award
  • Whether alimony or child support is awarded to the spouse in possession of the home and whether such alimony or child support is awarded to cover the mortgage, taxes, or other home-related expenses
  • The value of the use and occupancy of the home to the spouse in possession and to the spouse not in possession
  • Which party will be able to claim any home-related tax deductions, including any capital gains event
  • Any other factors

Disclaimer: The divorce law information provided is for informational purposes only not for legal advice purposes. This information is general in nature. Each jurisdiction has specific code and court procedures. A local divorce attorney is your best source for how divorce is treated in your jurisdiction. Before making any legal decisions we encourage you to consult with a local attorney…do not make decisions based on general state divorce law.

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