Florida Divorce Laws

Florida Divorce Laws
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Florida Divorce Laws

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS AND WHERE TO FILE:

To obtain a dissolution of marriage in Florida, one of the parties to the marriage must reside 6 months in the state before the filing of the petition. A proceeding for dissolution of marriage shall be commenced by filing in the circuit court where either party resides. No final judgment of dissolution of marriage may be entered until at least 20 days have elapsed from the date of filing the original petition for dissolution of marriage; but the court, on a showing that injustice would result from this delay, may enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage at an earlier date.

[Based on Florida Statutes 61.021, 61.043, and 61.19]

LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:

A dissolution of marriage in Florida may be granted based on the following grounds:

  • The marriage is irretrievably broken.
  • Mental incapacity of one of the spouses for a preceding period of at least 3 years.

[Based on Florida Statutes 61.052]

SEPARATION:

Florida does not directly address legal separation, but does have provisions concerning spousal and child support, custody, and visitation. Except when relief is afforded by some other pending civil action or proceeding, a spouse residing in this state apart from his or her spouse and minor child, whether or not such separation is through his or her fault, may obtain an adjudication of obligation to maintain the spouse and minor child, if any. The court shall adjudicate his or her financial obligations to the spouse and child, shall establish the child's primary residence, and shall determine the custody and visitation rights of the parties.

Such an action does not preclude either party from maintaining any other proceeding under this chapter for other or additional relief at any time.

[Based on Florida Statutes 61.10]


MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:

In any proceeding in which the issues of parental responsibility, primary residence, visitation, or support of a child are contested, the court may refer the parties to mediation in accordance with rules promulgated by the Supreme Court.

If an agreement is reached by the parties on the contested issues, a consent order incorporating the agreement shall be prepared by the mediator and submitted to the parties and their attorneys for review. Upon approval by the parties, the consent order shall be reviewed by the court and, if approved, entered. Thereafter, the consent order may be enforced in the same manner as any other court order. [Based on Florida Statutes 61.183]

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION:

Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the martial assets are divided on an equitable basis. The court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors, including:

  • 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 of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction.
  • 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.

    [Based on Florida Statutes 61.075]

    ALIMONY/MAINTENANCE/SPOUSAL SUPPORT:

    In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court may grant alimony to either party, which alimony may be rehabilitative or permanent in nature. In any award of alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded. In determining a proper award of alimony or maintenance, the court shall consider all relevant economic factors, including but not limited to:

    • 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, the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
    • 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.
    • All sources of income available to either party.

    [Based on Florida Statutes 61.08]

    CHILD CUSTODY:

    The court shall determine all matters relating to custody of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. After considering all relevant facts, the father of the child shall be given the same consideration as the mother in determining the primary residence of a child irrespective of the age or sex of the child.

    The court shall order that the parental responsibility for a minor child be shared by both parents unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child.

    The court shall order "sole parental responsibility, with or without visitation rights, to the other parent when it is in the best interests of" the minor child. In ordering shared parental responsibility, the court may consider the expressed desires of the parents and may grant to one party the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child's welfare or may divide those responsibilities between the parties based on the best interests of the child. The court may order rotating custody if the court finds that rotating custody will be in the best interest of the child. For purposes of shared parental responsibility and primary residence, the best interests of the child shall include an evaluation of all factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child, including, but not limited to:

    • The parent who is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the nonresidential parent.
    • The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child.
    • The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in lieu of medical 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 moral fitness of the parents.
    • The mental and physical health of the parents.
    • The home, school, and community record of the child.
    • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
    • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.
    • Evidence that any party has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding a domestic violence proceeding pursuant to s. 741.30.
    • Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.
    • Any other fact considered by the court to be relevant.

    [Based on Florida Statutes 61.121 and 61.113]

    CHILD SUPPORT:

    In a proceeding under this chapter, the court may at any time order either or both parents who owe a duty of support to a child to pay support in accordance with the state guidelines. The court initially entering an order requiring one or both parents to make child support payments shall have continuing jurisdiction after the entry of the initial order to modify the amount and terms and conditions of the child support payments when the modification is found necessary by the court in the best interests of the child, when the child reaches majority, or when there is a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties.

    Each order for support shall contain a provision for health care coverage for the minor child when the coverage is reasonably available. To the extent necessary to protect an award of child support, the court may order the obligor to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure the child support award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose. [Based on Florida Statutes 61.13]