Florida only offers no-fault divorce. Or, a court may grant a divorce when one spouse has been mentally incapable, as found by a judge, for at least 3 years. This means that a person filing for divorce in Florida does not have to prove the existence of grounds, e.g., adultery, for the divorce.
It is possible that a spouse who is guilty of domestic abuse may argue to a judge that the marriage is not irretrievably broken and ask the judge to order counseling or mediation before granting a divorce. If this were to happen, the other spouse could inform the judge about the domestic violence and point out to the court that the divorce is in everyone’s best interests.
More often, mediation could be ordered to resolve the issues at stake in a divorce and not for the purpose of reconciling the spouses.
If this occurs, the victim’s spouse may raise the issue of domestic violence; the judge could take steps to keep the spouse safe. For example, the mediator may be made aware of the violence and may place the victim’s spouse and the abuser in separate rooms, etc. Alternatively, the judge might agree that mediation is not appropriate in the particular situation.
In addition, a spouse who is the victim of domestic violence should seriously consider getting a restraining order for the abusive spouse as part of filing for divorce.
When no minor child is involved, and both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably shattered, the court usually grants a divorce.
The court may mandate counseling, extend the case for three months, or take other actions that are in the best interests of the parties and their minor child if there is one.
Is There a Residency Requirement for Getting Divorced in Florida?
A person or their spouse must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months before filing for divorce in Florida. Military personnel residing in Florida but currently stationed elsewhere are allowed an exemption to the residency requirement. The divorce petition must be filed in the county in Florida where one of the two spouses involved in the divorce resides.
How Do I Get a Divorce in Florida?
A person may file for divorce if they satisfy Florida’s residence criterion. The “Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage” must be submitted by one of the divorcing parties. “Petitioner” is the legal term for the spouse who files first for divorce, and “respondent” is the term for the other spouse.
The petitioner must provide the respondent with a copy of the form after it is filed, and the respondent must then file an answer to the petition.
Florida requires a person to provide a signed financial affidavit within 45 days of submitting their divorce petition. This involves providing details about their finances, such as:
- Tax filings;
- Banking records;
- Statements for credit cards;
- Financial declarations for individuals.
Once a person has filed for divorce, the court may mandate mediation. During this procedure, a third party tries to assist the two spouses in working out a divorce arrangement for themselves without the court’s involvement.
If the mediation is not successful, the parties must appear in court for a trial of the issues they are unable to resolve themselves. The judge then decides any disputed points after hearing evidence and arguments from both sides.
Some divorces may qualify for a streamlined divorce process. Attorneys might not be required if a person chooses this option, which does not require financial disclosure. A person must satisfy the following requirements to be eligible for a streamlined divorce:
- Both parties approve of the streamlined divorce;
- A person and their spouse do not have any adopted kids or other minor dependents under the age of 18;
- No spouse is expecting a child;
- One of the spouses has lived in Florida for the last six months;
- Both spouses agree about the division of all assets and debts;
- Neither spouse is asking for alimony; and
- The spouses agree that their union cannot be saved.
How Are a Couple’s Assets Divided in a Florida Divorce?
As noted above, a couple may negotiate an agreement themselves regarding the distribution of marital property and debt. A local Florida lawyer would be able to assist a couple in this effort.
If the spouses cannot reach an agreement on their own, the court divides the marital property and debts in Florida during a divorce procedure.
In Florida, the law characterizes any assets or debts acquired during the marriage as marital property. It is distributed between the spouses in an equitable manner.
Separate assets are assets acquired by just one spouse before marriage or through a gift or inheritance. The spouse who acquired the property as their separate property keeps it after the divorce.
Separate property may have become marital property in the course of the marriage. For example, an automobile becomes marital property when your spouse’s name is added to the title. If this has happened, a separate asset that has become a marital one is part of the equitable distribution of the marital assets.
Florida Property Distribution Procedures Following Divorce
A couple must divide their marital assets and debt between them after determining what is and is not marital property. The court first determines the value of the property if it is not known. The court might consult an expert appraiser to determine a property’s value. The value of a bank account is obvious, but the value of the family home may not be known.
After determining how much assets are worth, the court distributes it equitably. However, this does not necessarily imply that the court will divide the couple’s assets equally.
When deciding how to divide up property, the court may take any of the following factors into account:
- Contributions made by each partner to the marriage, such as those made in terms of parenting and homemaking;
- The financial situation of each couple;
- The duration of the union;
- Whether either spouse interrupted their schooling or career for the other spouse;
- Whether one spouse helped the other in furthering their education and/or career;
- The desirability of acquiring a certain asset, including for commercial purposes;
- How each partner helped the other acquire their assets;
- Which spouse should stay in the family home if there are children;
- Any deliberate mismanagement of assets in the two years before filing for divorce, e.g., one spouse spent large sums of money on a person with whom they committed adultery.
How Are Alimony and Child Support Handled According to Florida Divorce Law?
The court may require the non-custodial parent in Florida to pay child support to the ex-spouse.
When determining child support, the court may take into account the following factors:
- Parent’s financial capacity;
- The child’s needs;
- The number of children the spouses must support.
The behavior of the spouses during the marriage, including instances of infidelity, may also be taken into consideration by the court.
The court may also mandate that one spouse provide alimony, often known as “spousal support,” to the other. When determining alimony, the following considerations are made:
- Living conditions during the marriage;
- Duration of the marriage;
- Age and condition of partners;
- Both parties’ financial resources;
- Education and earning potential of each spouse;
- Contributions made by both partners to the marriage, including monetary ones;
- Treatment of taxes for both parties;
- Parenting responsibility for both parents;
- All sources of income.
Remember that a person must account for alimony and child support payments when filing their income tax return after a divorce. Child support payments cannot be deducted from gross income, but alimony payments can be deducted. Child support payments are not considered income, although alimony payments are.
What Is the Effect of a Florida Divorce on 401(k) and IRA Accounts?
The court considers any funds that either spouse contributes to a retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or an IRA, as marital property in Florida. Therefore, retirement accounts are divided by the court in the same manner as other marital assets.
It is vital to remember that only retirement or pension funds acquired during the marriage are regarded as marital property by the court. Any funds placed or earned by either spouse before the marriage or during the divorce are considered separate property. As noted above, the distribution of marital property by the court does not apply to separate property.
Do I Need the Help of an Attorney for My Florida Divorce?
You want to consult a Florida divorce attorney before filing for divorce in Florida. LegalMatch.com can connect you to an attorney who can help you with the initial drafting of your divorce petition and afterward with the document exchange, settlement, and any trial-related difficulties. The help of an attorney is important from the first step in a divorce.
A competent attorney is essential to ensure that you receive everything to which you are entitled.