If you’ve decided to get a divorce in Florida, it is essential that you are familiar with the relevant procedures and legal requirements for a hassle-free divorce. Reading through divorce forms and laws can be stressful and time consuming for you and your spouse, making the divorce process even harder on you emotionally. This article breaks down the general requirements and legalese on the dissolution of marriage in Florida to make the process slightly easier for you to bear.
Divorce in Florida Summary
Here is a brief breakdown of everything you need to know to get a divorce in Florida.
Divorce Petition Requirements
The only requirement to file a divorce in Florida is that you or your spouse have been a resident of Florida for more than 6 months.
To get divorced in Florida, the court must decide that the marriage is beyond saving. Other factors that could affect the dissolution of a marriage include the mental state of one of the parties and domestic violence.
How to File A Divorce in Texas
The first step is to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage at the Circuit Court.
After filing the divorce petition at the court, you must notify and serve your spouse the divorce paperwork. There are a few different ways you can do this.
The respondent has a 20-day timeline to respond to the petition and may choose to file a counterpetition if they disagree with the contents of the petition.
The court requires couples to attend a mediation session during which they negotiate the divorce terms such as child custody and asset sharing.
This step is only required in cases where the parties are unable to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce.
In this case, the case goes to trial to find an agreement on parenting plans, alimony, and timesharing.
After determining or adopting the terms of your divorce, the judge gives the order of dissolution.
This completes the divorce process in Florida.
Requirements for Filing a Divorce Petition in Florida
Your divorce petition must comply with Florida law to ensure a straightforward filing process. If you want to dissolve your marriage as quickly and as stress-free as possible, keep reading to learn how to file a divorce petition in Florida.
1. Residency requirement:
One of the most vital elements of the divorce process is the jurisdiction of the court. Jurisdiction refers to the authority of a court to hear and pass judgment on a particular case. For your divorce petition to come under the jurisdiction of Florida courts, you or your spouse must have lived in Florida for a minimum of six months before the date of your petition.
According to this law, it is sufficient for only one person in the marriage to have resided in the state for six months. Evidence of residency includes a valid driver’s license, a voter’s card, a Florida identification card, and testimony or affidavit where the above documents are unavailable.
2. Marriage must be irretrievably broken:
In many states, divorce laws require the spouses to have separated for some time. However, Florida laws don’t require a separation period between you and your partner before you can file for a divorce. Also, you don’t have to show proof of your spouse’s wrongdoings when filing for a divorce. For a successful dissolution of marriage, you simply have to show that the marriage is hopeless and you no longer see a future together. If you and your spouse disagree on this factor, the petition becomes a contested divorce and goes to trial.
On the other hand, if you and your spouse agree that the marriage is no longer sustainable (uncontested divorce), the divorce process is faster. The judge prescribes a mediation session to iron out key points and come to an amicable resolution (contained in a marital settlement agreement). If the mediation fails, the judge examines those points (alimony, property sharing, custody, etc.) during a trial.
If the court decides that the marriage is beyond saving, the petition for dissolution of marriage shall be granted if there are no minor or dependent children. If you have minor children, you and your partner will have to attend an approved parenting course or see a marriage counselor for a “continuance period” of three months to see if there is any chance of reconciliation. It is important to note that the court will not grant a divorce if the presiding judge or mediator doesn’t find the marriage to be irretrievably broken.
Other factors that can affect a dissolution of marriage petition include the mental state (where a party is mentally incapacitated for three or more years) of a spouse and domestic violence.
How to File for Divorce in Florida
Getting a divorce in Florida is a five-step process.
NOTE: If the stress of going through the divorce process feels like too much or if you’re worried about making a mistake and spending months adjusting your divorce petition to meet the court’s strict guidelines, there are service providers that can assist you with this process and who guarantee that your forms will be accepted by the court.
If you’d like help with your divorce process, check out our list of the best online divorce services in Florida.
Step 1: File a Petition for Dissolution
The first step to getting a divorce in Florida is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage at the Circuit Court. This can be done by downloading the divorce petition forms on the Florida court’s website.
You will need to fill in details such as the year of marriage, current address, income and tax details, as well as your social security number. In fact, all parties to a marriage dissolution process are obliged to provide their social security numbers and those of their kids (if any).
Step 2: Serving Your Partner the Divorce Papers
You may be familiar with this part from movies and TV. After filing the petition, you (the petitioner) must serve a notice of the divorce petition to your spouse (the respondent). The law allows you to serve your spouse the divorce petition via email, post, or physically.
Your spouse has a 20-day timeline (from the date of service) to respond to the petition. The respondent may choose to file a counterpetition disagreeing with the contents of the petition, or they may agree with your divorce claims while seeking a variation in the demands of such a petition.
Whichever the case, the petition must state that the marriage is irretrievably broken and can be filed in the county where either party resides.
Step 3: Divorce Mediation
The next step in getting a divorce is the mediation process.
The court requires couples to attend a mediation session during which they negotiate the divorce terms. This step allows you and your spouse to reach a compromise on life after the divorce, particularly on issues like alimony, child custody, and asset sharing.
The mediation process is performed in the presence of a neutral third party appointed by the court, but you may attend the session with your lawyer.
Step 4: The Divorce Hearing
If the parties cannot agree on parenting plans, alimony, and timesharing, the case goes to trial, and the judge invites each spouse to tender evidence before making a decision. The court allows you to appeal the decision if you’re unhappy with the judgment.
This step is only necessary where parties are unable to agree on the terms of the divorce.
Step 5: The Divorce Order
The last step in the divorce process is when the judge gives the “order of dissolution.” This takes place after the divorce terms have been finalized by the parties themselves or ordered by the judge.
The order of dissolution is the final judgment in a divorce hearing and puts a legal full stop to your marriage.
If you need help with your divorce . . .
There are several online divorce service providers in Florida that have streamlined the divorce process and guarantee that the court will accept your forms. I’ve reviewed, compared, and ranked these services so that you can finalize your divorce as quickly as possible and move on with your life.
You can read the results of our investigation here: 10 Best Florida Online Divorce Services
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a divorce in Florida?
Contrary to how they seem in the movies and the news, divorce proceedings are usually time consuming and drawn out. However, the timeline for each divorce depends mainly on the facts of each case. Divorce petitions in Florida can last from weeks to years depending on several factors, such as court schedule, child custody and alimony disputes, and property sharing.
Uncontested dissolution of marriage proceedings are faster and easier for all parties, often finalizing within as little as a few weeks. However, contested divorce petitions are more time consuming because the court or mediator has to step in if you and your soon-to-be ex cannot reach an agreement. This can lead to a trial to determine alimony payments, parental custody, property division, and child support.
Judges usually require a mediation session for couples in a divorce hearing to reach custody, parental, and property sharing agreements. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the matter goes to trial, and the judge must ensure an equitable distribution of assets, liabilities, alimony costs, and custody (based on the child’s best interests, the income of each spouse, tax records, and the mental, emotional, and physical health of the child).
Overall, uncontested marital dissolutions are much faster than contested cases, mainly where there are no dependent kids, and neither party is seeking alimony. You can also save time and legal costs by seeking a mediator to help you and your spouse reach an agreement on the divorce. This saves you considerable time and ensures you don’t have to spend weeks going back and forth with someone you’re trying to leave.
What are the different types of divorce in Florida?
Divorce is called “dissolution of marriage” in Florida. Dissolution of marriage petitions are governed by Chapter 61 of the state-specific Florida statute and differs from the divorce process in other states. Though the law applies statewide, there are slight variations from one county to another. Florida laws recognize two types of marriage dissolution:
1. Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
Simplified dissolution of marriage is for unions in which both parties agree to the divorce terms. For a simplified dissolution of marriage petition to succeed, parties must conduct the following:
- Agree that the marriage has broken down irretrievably
- Agree on parental custody and child care (if there are dependant kids)
- Decide on a property-sharing formula regarding marital liabilities and assets
- Not be requesting alimony or financial support
Also referred to as an uncontested divorce, a simplified dissolution of marriage is fast, since parties waive their right to a trial and appeal, helping estranged spouses to get a divorce and move on with their lives quickly without spending a lot of time together.
2. Regular Dissolution of Marriage
The regular dissolution of marriage begins with one spouse filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage at the court, stating why they want out of the marriage and their desires regarding custody, alimony, child support, and property sharing. The spouse filing the petition is required by law to serve the divorce papers on their spouse.
Upon receiving the divorce papers, the other spouse must respond to the petition by either showing why the marriage should not be dissolved or by agreeing to the terms proposed in it. In such cases where spouses disagree on either the terms of the divorce or whether the marriage should be dissolved at all, the matter goes to trial and you’re free to appeal the court’s decision if you feel hard done by.
It is interesting to note that all spouses in a regular dissolution of marriage must attend a mediation session to either reach amicable agreements on the divorce terms. If they are unable to reach an agreement, the final decision on crucial points of the divorce (such as alimony, parental care, and assets sharing) is left to the presiding judge.
Do I need an attorney to get a divorce in Florida?
No, you don’t need to engage an attorney to get a divorce in the state of Florida. Florida courts provide the divorce forms online, allowing you to file for a divorce without entering a law firm.
Additionally, the court has a self-help portal that recommends helpful resources if you decide to represent yourself at the divorce hearing. While this may be tempting, it is advisable to enlist a family law attorney if you are in a contested divorce due to their knowledge and experience and to avoid an emotional outburst during the hearing.
Another viable option is to enlist the services of Online Divorce Providers in Florida for your uncontested divorce because they ensure the validity and court acceptance of your divorce forms.
Do I have to prove separation to get a divorce under Florida Law?
No, you don’t have to prove separation to get divorced in Florida. Florida state law doesn’t require you to be separated from your partner before filing for a divorce. The principal requirement is that either you or your spouse is a Florida resident and that the marriage is beyond saving.
Can I get a divorce in Florida if I was married in another state?
You can file for divorce in Florida as long as you or your spouse resides in Florida, even if you got married in another state. You can get a divorce in Florida if you meet the filing requirements of residency and irretrievable marriage breakdown.
Is spousal fault necessary for dissolution of marriage in Florida?
Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means you don’t have to show proof or evidence of your spouse’s shortcomings when filing for divorce. Though the court may consider relevant faults when deciding questions of alimony and custody, a spousal fault is not necessary for divorce in Florida.
What factors influence alimony and child support payments?
When granting Alimony and Child Support Orders, the court pays attention to the income and needs of the parties. The first consideration is whether the spouse requesting alimony needs financial assistance. In answering this, the court considers the age, health and employment status, each spouse’s income, the standard of living during the union, the financial standing of each spouse, and the length of the marriage.
The length of the marriage is calculated from the date of the marriage to the date when the divorce petition was filed. Going by this, Florida laws categorize marriages into three types based on the duration. A short term marriage is seven years or less, while a moderate-term marriage lasts longer than 7 years but not more than 17 years. A long term marriage lasts 17 years or more.
Alimony payments are not mandated by law and depend on the judge’s discretion and the circumstances of each case. Sometimes, a judge may order rehabilitative alimony—monthly stipends until that spouse finds employment or finishes school. Permanent alimony, on the other hand, lasts until such spouse remarries or dies.
Child support is a shared parental responsibility under Florida statutes and both spouses are bound to contribute to the upkeep of their children. Though the amount payable by each party may differ, Florida divorce laws require each parent to contribute to their child’s upbringing until adulthood.
However, both alimony and child support payments rest on the financial ability of either spouse to make the payments. That is, the court will not order a payment that is beyond the financial capacity of each spouse.
How is marital property shared?
A crucial bane of marriage dissolutions in Florida is the sharing of marital assets. FL Stat § 61.075 (2019) states that marital assets and liabilities shall be equitably distributed between both parties. The same provision requires the court to separate the non-marital assets and liabilities of each spouse and assume the equal distribution of marital assets and liabilities subject to several factors, which include the following:
- Each spouse’s contributions, 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 other spouse’s career or educational opportunity
- 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 statute defines non-marital assets and liabilities as those accrued by either spouse before the marriage.
Getting a divorce can be a complicated and stressful process and any number of the steps involved can create delay if you aren’t prepared. If you need a divorce in Florida, hopefully, my guide helps to make the process as quick and painless as possible. Good luck!