In Florida, a divorce is a complete ending of an existing marriage. A common definition of legal separation is that the two spouses remain married but some aspects of the marriage are dissolved. While Florida does not formally recognize legal separation, but a couple may go through a few different processes to get the same effect as a separation in other states. Since Florida is a no-fault divorce state, no wrongdoing is required by either partner to qualify for divorce, only irreconcilable differences.
Florida does not require a period of separation before a divorce may be sought. If both spouses agree that there are irreconcilable differences in the relationship that have given rise to the divorce no counseling is required prior to the divorce. However, if one of the spouses disputes the divorce then the court may require marriage counseling for a period of up to 3 months before the divorce may proceed.
What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?
Florida provides the necessary forms to file for a divorce on their website. There are separate forms depending on the exact situation, mostly depending on whether there are children involved. The basic form for a divorce is called a petition for simplified dissolution of marriage. This form is only available to married couples who:
- Do not have children from the marriage,
- Neither spouse is pregnant, and
- Both spouses have agreed on how to split the marital property.
If one or more of these requirements are not met, then more complex forms are necessary. These forms cater to uncontested divorce or when both spouses have agreed to divorce. A contested divorces is when one spouse does not wish to be divorced, means a different process that must be done through the court. It is also important to note that these forms cannot be completed by a single spouse as they require the signatures of both spouses.
Community Property vs. Separate Property
Florida is not a community property state, instead it follows “equitable distribution.” That is, a Florida court will attempt to divide the marital property fairly. Upon divorce, everything acquired by the couple during the marriage is considered marital property and is split as fairly as possible. This means if one spouse has acquired more property than the other they will have some of their property taken away from them upon divorce and given to the other spouse.
But some property is kept apart from consideration in divorce and will not be considered in the split. Some examples of this property are:
- Property acquired before the marriage
- Gifts intended for one spouse only
What Should You Do if There are Children Involved?
A court will have to resolve custody of children and how much child support will be paid. The court will focus upon the best interest of the child when determining which parent will have custody of any children from the marriage. A Florida court will give deference to an agreement between both parents as to who should have custody. Without an agreement, the court will assume both parents will have custody but will listen to arguments from both parents.
If only one parent is granted custody of the children, the other parent will be required to pay child support. By Florida law there are minimum amounts of child support that must be paid based on guidelines but the actual amount is determined by the court.
Do You Need to Pay Alimony?
Florida’s divorce proceedings provide for alimony but it is not required in all cases. Alimony payments are customized by the court to fit the situation presented. Both in amount and how long they will last. Some types of payments will only last as long as the divorce proceedings last.
Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?
Divorce can be a difficult process and a lawyer can help you through it. The process becomes even more complex when children are added in or a significant amount of property is in question. A divorce lawyer can help you get the outcome most favorable to you. Contact a Florida divorce lawyer to help you through this process.