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Filing for Divorce in Florida

Divorce is not a subject that is typically discussed lightly between couples, and generates a lot of emotion if that is an avenue down which a couple chooses to travel. Once the decision is made that the marriage cannot be saved, though, it is important to consider when and where filing for divorce is legally permitted. Each state has its own requirements related to filing for divorce that touch on issues like residency, disputes between the couple, and temporary orders for support. Having some idea of the processes couples face when seeking to divorce will help them move more easily through the court system and lessen the likelihood of delay.

Residency

Before a couple is eligible to file a divorce petition in a Florida court, at least one of them must live in the state for no less than six months. Residency may be established by any of the following documents:

  • a valid Florida driver’s license;
  • a Florida voter’s ID card;
  • a valid Florida ID card; or
  • a written affidavit or testimony of a third party.

Grounds for Divorce

Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that either party can file for divorce and need only show the marriage is irretrievably broken. While the specific reasons for the collapse of the marriage do not need to be stated in a divorce petition, this information could come into play later in divorce proceedings when a court considers alimony, property division and parenting plans if a party is accused of wrongdoing.

Florida has a second, though rarely used, basis for divorce based on the incapacity of a spouse. If a spouse is declared incompetent by court, the other spouse can use this designation to justify divorce if three years have passed since the declaration of incapacity.

Petitions

If a couple has no children, is in agreement about property division and alimony, and admits the marriage is irretrievably broken, the divorce process is just a matter of filing the correct paperwork and waiting the legally-required period before a court can dissolve the marriage. Time and money can be saved if the couple has a formalized agreement ready ahead of filing, but this is not required.

If however, the couple has minor children together or a party denies the marriage is broken, there is much more scrutiny, and a court has the authority to order either of the following:

  • consultation by both parties with a marriage counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, priest, minister, rabbi or any other party determined qualified by the court and acceptable to the parties; or
  • continue the case for up to three months to give the couple an opportunity to reconcile.

In either situation, once the divorce petition is filed, the other spouse has 20 days to respond and contest claims made in petition or raise additional issues for the court’s consideration.

Final Court Order

Florida law requires the passage of at least 20 days between a filing of a divorce petition and the issuance of a court order dissolving the marriage. The court can shorten this period, however, if this delay would be unjust to either party. Divorce cases involving minor children typically take six months to resolve due to the additional issues in play.

Contact a Divorce Attorney

Divorce is big decision that has repercussions extending far beyond who lives where and who owns what. Working with a knowledgeable divorce attorney will allow you to better structure child custody and financial arrangements in a manner that works for you and your family. The Fort Lauderdale law firm of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. can help you transition to the next phase of your life. Contact us to schedule free consultation.

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