There are requirements everyone must meet in order to obtain a divorce in the state of Florida. This is a Florida Divorce Primer anyone can use.
Eligibility – Divorce in Florida. To obtain a divorce in Florida, one of the parties must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing with the court. The divorce filing must be made in the county in Florida where either of the two parties to the divorce resides, however, the county of filing, i.e. venue, can be selected if the filing party so chooses (certain restrictions may apply).
Grounds – Florida is a no-fault divorce state. The only reason for divorce is that your marriage is irretrievably broken. Further, a spouse being mentally incapacitated for three years is also grounds for divorce in Florida.
Process – If you meet the residency requirements for a divorce in Florida, you can move forward with filing in the courts. One party will need to file the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. 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.
Financial Disclosure – Within 45 days of filing your petition, you are required to file a signed financial affidavit. This document includes:
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Personal financial statements
Mediation – Will 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
- How to Split Up Assets During a Divorce in Florida
- Florida Divorce Laws
During a divorce proceeding in Florida, the court only divides marital assets and debts. For the purposes of a Florida divorce, the court considers any assets or debts acquired during the marriage by either party as marital assets.
The court does not divide separate assets, defined as property and money owned by only one of the spouses. Non-marital assets include anything that either spouse obtained before the marriage or anything that either spouse received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage. This does not include gifts between spouses. Adding your spouse to the title of an item such as a car makes it marital property.
Florida Divorce Primer: How to Divide Property in Florida After Divorce
Once the couple decides what is and isn’t marital property, they must actually divide their property. First, the court assesses the value of non-monetary property. The court will work with the couple to determine the value of their property. Experts like appraisers or certified public accountants (CPA) may be consulted to determine property value.
The court divides the spouses’ property after assessing its value. In Florida, property must have an equitable distribution. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the court will split a couple’s property down the middle though. The court may consider the following factors when making its decisions regarding property distribution:
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including childcare and homemaking
- Economic circumstances of both spouses
- Length of the marriage
- Interruption of career or education of either party
- If one spouse helped the other to advance his or her career or education
- Desirability of obtaining a specific asset, including for business reasons
- How each spouse contributed to obtaining their assets
- Whether it’s necessary for either spouse to stay in the family home for children
Any intentional wasting of assets during the two years prior to filing for divorce (this includes spending large amounts of money on a person with whom one spouse committed adultery)
How to Manage Child Support and Alimony Under Florida Divorce Laws
In Florida, the court can order the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the ex-spouse. The court may consider the following factors when calculating child support:
- Parent’s ability to pay
- Needs of the child
- Number of children to support
Alimony – Additionally, the court may also order one spouse to pay alimony, also called spousal support. Factors taken into account when calculating alimony include:
- Standard of living during marriage
- Length of marriage
- Age and health of spouses
- Financial resources of both parties
- Earning capacity and education of both parties
- Contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including financial contributions
- Tax treatment of both parties
- Both parties’ parenting responsibilities
- All income sources
- Spouses’ behavior, including adultery