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Divorce in Florida – A Guide

Eligibility

To file for divorce in Florida, one of the two parties to the divorce must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing with the court. One exception to this is if you are a member of the military who lives in Florida but is currently stationed outside of the state. The divorce filing must be made in the county in Florida where either of the two parties to the divorce resides.

Grounds for Divorce in Florida

Florida is a no-fault divorce state. The only reason that you have to give for filing for divorce is that your marriage is irretrievably broken. In other words, you must show that your relationship is over and you cannot repair it. Additionally, a spouse being mentally incapacitated for three years is also grounds for divorce in Florida.

Process to Divorce

If you meet the residency requirements for a divorce in Florida, you can move forward with filing in the courts. One of the two parties to the divorce will need to file a form called the Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage. The spouse who files the form is the petitioner, and the other spouse is the respondent.

After the form is filed, the petitioner must give a copy to the respondent. This is known as serving the divorce papers. If your spouse agrees to the divorce, he or she can accept the service of the papers. The spouse will then need to fill out and file a different form called an Answer and Waiver of Service, which must be signed and notarized before it is filed.

Matters may become more complicated if your spouse will not accept the service of the divorce papers. In this case, you can get the sheriff from the county in which your spouse resides to serve the papers to your spouse. If you don’t know your spouse’s current location, you can serve them with what is known as a constructive service. This is done by paying to place an ad in a local newspaper (assuming you can find one in the area where your spouse lives) to alert your spouse that you are serving them with divorce.

Within 45 days of filing your petition, Florida requires you to turn over a signed financial affidavit. This involves disclosing information about your finances, including:

  • Income
  • Assets
  • Debts
  • Tax returns
  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Personal financial statements

Mediation may be ordered after you file for divorce. During this process, a third party will attempt to help you and your spouse come to a divorce agreement without involving the court. If this doesn’t work, you’ll go to trial. Each side will present evidence and call witnesses, and a judge will make the final decision on all contested issues.

Some divorces may be eligible for a simplified dissolution of marriage. This option does not require a financial disclosure and attorneys may not be necessary. To qualify for a simplified dissolution of marriage, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Both parties agree to the simplified dissolution of marriage
  • You and your spouse have no minor or dependent children, including adopted children under the age of 18
  • Neither spouse is pregnant
  • At least one partner has resided in Florida for six months
  • Both parties agree on how to divide all property and debts
  • Neither party is seeking alimony
  • Spouses agree the marriage cannot be saved