Florida State Divorce Laws and Resources
U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in Florida have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.
Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more expanded understanding concerning this subject.
As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.
SAME-SEX DIVORCE – UPDATE:
On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges
FLORIDA RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS:
To obtain dissolution of marriage in Florida, one of the parties to the marriage must reside 6 months in the state before the filing of the petition. The petition should be filed in the circuit court where either party resides. There waiting period of at least 20 days after the petition is filed before a dissolution of marriage may be granted; but the court, on a showing that injustice would result from this delay, may enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage at an earlier date.
LEGAL GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:
A dissolution of marriage in Florida may be granted based on the following grounds:
* The marriage is irretrievably broken.
* Mental incapacity of one of the parties for a preceding period of at least 3 years. [Based on Florida Statutes 61.052]
Florida does not directly address legal separation, but does have provisions concerning spousal and child support, establishing the child’s primary residence, and determining the custody and visitation rights of the parties. Such an action does not preclude either party from maintaining any other proceeding under this chapter for other or additional relief at any time. [Based on Florida Statutes 61.10]
MEDIATION OR COUNSELING REQUIREMENTS:
In any proceeding in which the issues of parental responsibility, primary residence, visitation, or support of a child are contested, the court may refer the parties to mediation. If the parties on the contested issues reach an agreement, a consent order incorporating the agreement shall be prepared by the mediator and submitted to the parties and their attorneys for review. Upon approval by the parties, the consent order shall be reviewed by the court and, if approved, entered. Thereafter, the consent order may be enforced in the same manner as any other court order.
HELPFUL RELATED SERVICES
Meditation & Wellbeing
Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the martial assets are divided on an equitable basis.
The court may take the following factors into consideration when distributing the marital property:
(a) The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker;
(b) The economic circumstances of the parties;
(c) The duration of the marriage;
(d) Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party;
(e) The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse;
(f) 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;
(g) 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;
(h) The desirability of retaining the marital home as a residence for any dependent child of the marriage, or any other party, when it would be equitable to do so, it is in the best interest of the child or that party, and it is financially feasible for the parties to maintain the residence until the child is emancipated or until exclusive possession is otherwise terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction;
(i) The intentional dissipation, waste, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition;
(j) Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
The court may grant alimony to either party, as well as determine whether alimony shall be rehabilitative or permanent in nature. In any award of alimony, the court may order periodic payments or payments in lump sum or both. The court may consider the adultery of either spouse and the circumstances thereof in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded. In determining a proper award of alimony or maintenance, the court shall consider all relevant economic factors, including but not limited to:
- The standard of living established during the marriage.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party.
- The financial resources of each party, the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
- When applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment.
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party.
- All sources of income available to either party.
- To the extent necessary to protect an award of alimony, the court may order any party who is ordered to pay alimony to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure such alimony award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose.
CHILD CUSTODY – BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD
Custody is determined in accordance with the best interests of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, without regard to gender of either parent or the age or sex of the child. Shared parental responsibility for a minor child is preferable, unless the court finds that shared parental responsibility would be detrimental to the child. The court shall order “sole parental responsibility, with or without visitation rights, to the other parent when it is in the best interests of” the minor child.
In ordering shared parental responsibility, the court may consider the expressed desires of the parents and may grant to one party the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare or may divide those responsibilities between the parties based on the best interests of the child.
The court may order rotating custody if the court finds that rotating custody will be in the best interest of the child. For purposes of shared parental responsibility and primary residence, the best interests of the child shall include an evaluation of all factors affecting the welfare and interests of the child, including, but not limited to:
- The parent who is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the nonresidential parent.
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in lieu of medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home.
- The moral fitness of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference.
- The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.
- Evidence that any party has knowingly provided false information to the court regarding a domestic violence proceeding pursuant to s. 741.30.
- Evidence of domestic violence or child abuse.
- Any other fact considered by the court to be relevant.
The court may order either or both parents to pay support in accordance with the State of Florida Child Support Guidelines. The court initially entering a child support order shall have continuing jurisdiction to modify the amount and terms and conditions of the child support payments when the modification is found necessary by the court in the best interests of the child, when the child reaches majority, or when there is a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties. Each order for support shall contain a provision for health care coverage for the minor child when the coverage is reasonably available. To the extent necessary to protect an award of child support, the court may order the obligor to purchase or maintain a life insurance policy or a bond, or to otherwise secure the child support award with any other assets which may be suitable for that purpose.
ENFORCING CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – FEDERAL OPTION:
Learn about the Federal Office of Child Support and Enforcement:
FIND LOCAL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT AGENCY NEAR YOU