Florida Divorce Laws
The state of Florida has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how Florida addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of Florida divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our Florida online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a Dissolution of Marriage in Florida, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
To obtain a dissolution of marriage, one of the parties to the marriage must reside 6 months in the state before the filing of the petition. The dissolution of marriage can be filed in the county in which either or both spouses reside. (Florida Statutes - Chapters: 61.021)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested Dissolution of Marriage cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Florida the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
(1) The marriage is irretrievably broken.
Filing Party Name: The Petitioner. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the Dissolution of Marriage and is the one who actually files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Respondent. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested Dissolution of Marriage versus a contested Dissolution of Marriage. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the Circuit Court in and for the County of __________, Florida. All Dissolution of Marriage cases in the state of Florida are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Florida clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: County Clerk's Office of the Circuit Court.
Property and Debt Division: Florida is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
The court will consider the following factors, including: (1) The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children and services as homemaker. (2) The economic circumstances of the parties. (3) The duration of the marriage. (4) Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party. (5) The contribution of one spouse to the personal career or educational opportunity of the other spouse. (6) 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. (7) 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 nonmarital assets of the parties. (8) 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 (9) 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. (10) Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties. (Florida Statutes - Chapters: 61.075 and 61.077)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the court may grant alimony to either party, which alimony may 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: (1) The standard of living established during the marriage. (2) The duration of the marriage. (3) The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party. (4) The financial resources of each party, the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each. (5) When applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment. (6) 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. (7) All sources of income available to either party. The court may consider any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
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. (Florida Statutes - Chapters: 61.08)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Florida courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
The court shall have jurisdiction to determine custody, not withstanding that the child is not physically present in this state at the time of filing any proceeding under this chapter, if it appears to the court that the child was removed from this state for the primary purpose of removing the child from the jurisdiction of the court in an attempt to avoid a determination or modification of custody.
The court shall determine all matters relating to custody of each minor child of the parties in accordance with the best interests of the child and in accordance with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. It is the public policy of this state to assure that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys, of childrearing. After considering all relevant facts, the father of the child shall be given the same consideration as the mother in determining the primary residence of a child irrespective of the age or sex of the child. (Florida Statutes - Chapters: 61.13)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Florida child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
The court has the right to order child support according the Florida Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines are based on the income of each parent along with applicable deviation factors that may exist. If the parents can not come to a reasonable agreement on the child support amount the court will use the support guidelines located in the Florida Statutes.
The court may adjust the minimum child support award, or either or both parents' share of the minimum child support award, based upon the following considerations: A. Extraordinary medical, psychological, educational, or dental expenses. B. Independent income of the child, not to include moneys received by a child from supplemental security income. C. The payment of support for a parent which regularly has been paid and for which there is a demonstrated need. D. Seasonal variations in one or both parents' incomes or expenses. E. The age of the child, taking into account the greater needs of older children. F. Special needs, such as costs that may be associated with the disability of a child, that have traditionally been met within the family budget even though the fulfilling of those needs will cause the support to exceed the proposed guidelines. G. Total available assets of the obligee, obligor, and the child. H. The impact of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption and waiver of that exemption. The court may order the primary residential parent to execute a waiver of the Internal Revenue Service dependency exemption if the noncustodial parent is current in support payments. I. When application of the child support guidelines requires a person to pay another person more than 55 percent of his or her gross income for a child support obligation for current support resulting from a single support order. J. The particular shared parental arrangement, such as where the child spends a significant amount of time, but less than 40 percent of the overnights, with the noncustodial parent, thereby reducing the financial expenditures incurred by the primary residential parent; or the refusal of the noncustodial parent to become involved in the activities of the child. K. Any other adjustment which is needed to achieve an equitable result which may include, but not be limited to, a reasonable and necessary existing expense or debt. Such expense or debt may include, but is not limited to, a reasonable and necessary expense or debt which the parties jointly incurred during the marriage. (Florida Statutes - Chapters: 61.13 and 61.30)
Copyright Notice: These Florida divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
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