23 Feb 7 Things You Need to Know about Divorce in Florida
If you are considering petitioning for a divorce in Florida, there are several things you should keep in mind before hiring an attorney. You can save yourself time and money by staying up-to-date on Florida’s specific divorce procedures and laws. The following list will help you prepare for your first meeting with a new attorney.
1. Florida is a “No-Fault” Divorce State
In Florida, the divorce process is a “no-fault” system, which means that the couple need not prove that either party performed adultery, abandonment or abuse. The couple can simply say that their marriage was “irretrievably broken.” When both parties agree on all issues of equitable distribution and there are not any children involved, the court will usually grant the divorce via the simplified dissolution process.
2. Residency is Required
In order to file for divorce in Florida, at least one party must either be a Florida resident or be stationed with the military in Florida. You or your spouse must have lived in Florida for a minimum of six months before filing for divorce. You will also need to provide a Florida driver’s license for proof at the time of the hearing.
3. Filing a Petition for Divorce in Florida
In order for a legally begin a divorce in Florida, a spouse must file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” (aka a regular Dissolution of Marriage”) in a county in which one or both of the spouses live. After the filing of the petition, the paperwork must be served to the other party. They have approximately 20 days to respond in which to respond.
4. Dividing Assets
Divorce laws in Florida state that each party can, for the most part, retain their own non-marital property as well as any debts they had before the marriage. These are referred to as “Pre-Marital Assets”. If couples are unable to agree on how marital assets and debts will be divided, the court will need to be involved in the performance of the equitable distribution. The court will try to divide assets fairly, factoring in each spouse’s economic circumstances and contributions made during the marriage.
5. Awarding Alimony
Florida courts will award alimony (spousal support) if they deem it “well-founded.” This is a fairly broad term and there isn’s a statute that specifically sets forth exactly how much one spouse must pay to the other based on certain factors. Instead, the courts, more generally, will use their discretion in considering one party’s need for alimony, the other party’s ability to pay alimony, the standard of living during the marriage, the marriage’s duration and the age and health of each partner.
6. Child Support and Custody
As with most states, if custody is contested, Florida courts will determine child custody based on the child’s best interests. Florida courts will usually try to grant “joint custody” or “time-sharing” unless circumstances suggest otherwise. As far as child support is concerned, your divorce attorney will review the amount of income generated by each parent, the age and number of any minor children and expenses like daycare and health insurance. Florida courts also have the ability to set aside the parents’ assets or require life insurance as security for future funding and educational support.
7. Simplified Divorce in Florida
For Florida couples who agree that their marriage is irretrievably broken, have proof of residency, have no minor-age children and the spouses agree on how to divide assets, “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage” is a great option. This is the fastest and easiest way for a couple who meet these requirements to finalize their divorce.
Divorce does not have to be a painful or drawn-out experience. Follow the advice of your attorney and stay informed about Florida divorce laws in order to successfully finalize your divorce and move on to the next chapter in your life.