October 13, 2021
For most married couples who try everything to keep their marriage, there reaches a point they have no option left but to seek divorce. If you are one of those, then know you are not alone, because in America, more than 22 percent of first marriages end in divorce within five years, and 53 percent of the marriages are dissolved by the 20-year mark, according to the latest available statistics from the government.
If you live in Florida and are contemplating divorce, then there are several requirements that you must meet before filing and having the divorce granted, and only some are as follows.
You must physically live in Florida for a set time to obtain a divorce here. This is in part to avoid or minimize the need to deal with divorce issues involving couples who do not live in the state. The most common and straightforward proof of residency is a Florida driver’s license or state identification card, Florida voter’s registration card, Florida vehicle registration, Florida vehicle title, Florida professional or occupational license.
It is common for some couples who intend to divorce to have second or more thoughts and wish to change their mind and abandon the idea. This reflects the fact each marriage always has its ups and downs, and it is not uncommon to have heated arguments that lead one or both married couples to wish to end their marriage.
Recognizing this truism, Florida has built-in time for reconciliation, which is a possibility during the divorce process. By requiring a waiting period to allow spouses to determine a divorce is what they unavoidably want. The waiting period is 20 days, which begins to count from the date of filing for divorce.
Grounds for Divorce in Florida
To obtain a divorce in Florida, you must have one of these grounds:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken, which means it can never be saved or
- A judge has declared either couple mentally incapacitated not less than three years before filing for divorce.
The most common of these two grounds in obtaining marriage dissolution in Florida is an irretrievably broken marriage. The spouse seeking divorce on this ground must show that the couple has tried and is completely unable to resolve disputes or differences between them and that the severity of these disputes or differences is so deep that they have caused a total breakdown of the marriage.
Most divorces in Florida are no-fault divorces (first ground above) because proving a fault-based divorce is more difficult and time-consuming. To obtain a no-fault divorce, all the divorcing party needs to do is simply state that the marriage has become irretrievably broken, and that is it; no need to prove anything more. People often refer to these as irreconcilable differences, meaning a couple cannot resolve major incompatibility issues in the marriage.
Basic Steps for Filing Divorce In Florida
The following are steps one must follow or go through before having divorce granted:
- Assuming you meet the residency requirements, you initiate divorce proceedings by filing divorce papers in court and serving your spouse with copies. Serving your spouse is a legal term, meaning you must comply with the law in how you present the copies of your divorce papers to your spouse. If you have not properly served your spouse with the papers, he or she may have a basis to have your case dismissed. On the other hand, if you properly serve your spouse with your divorce papers and they do not show up in court for a hearing in your case, then a judge may grant your divorce by default, which a judge can only set aside if the spouse who failed to show up makes a case that satisfies the law requirements for setting aside a divorce by default.
- If the party you are divorcing disagrees with anything in the divorce papers you filed, then he or she will have the opportunity to reply to what you have said, both on paper and later at a hearing. This is called a contested divorce, meaning one of the spouses does not want the court to grant a divorce. If this happens, namely, if the other spouse contests the divorce, then you will have several court appearances to address the issues. If your spouse agrees with everything you stated in your divorce papers, this is called a simplified divorce, meaning a court can expressly grant it. However, this option is only available if you have no children. If your husband or wife does not sign the papers you served them for a simplified divorce, they must file a regular petition for dissolution of marriage.
- If you have property that you and your soon-to-be-ex need to divide or if you seek financial support from your spouse, then you may have to work that out between you and your spouse outside of court or in a series of court hearings in the event you do not reach an agreement or settlement. If you have children, a court may also determine issues related to child custody and support alongside your divorce.
Marital Property in Florida
Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that all marital property is divided fairly and equitably between the two divorcing spouses. In other words, it does not mean or follow that the division will be on a 50/50 split; rather, the spouses will each get a share of the property that the court deems to be appropriate based on several factors that the court must consider.
Need Help with Divorce?
If divorce is unavoidable and you must obtain one in Florida, then an experienced family or divorce lawyer can help you navigate the legal process to obtain a divorce. Contact one today for a free consultation.