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Filing for Divorce in Florida

Filing for Divorce in Florida

Making the decision to end your marriage is never an easy one. But in most cases, it’s one that will help you or your spouse move on from an unhealthy relationship.

It’s important to keep in mind that divorce laws differ from state to state. If you’re planning on filing for divorce in Florida, learn about the laws in this state that may affect some of your divorce planning.

Florida Divorce Laws

In Florida, divorce is known as “Dissolution of Marriage.” Like most states, Florida requires spouses to meet certain requirements before filing for dissolution of marriage.

There are two grounds for dissolution of marriage in Florida, including the following:

  • The marriage is irretrievably broken; or

  • Mental incapacity of one of the spouses, where the party was incapacitated for the prior three years.

In order to file for divorce, spouses must complete the following requirements:

  • Either spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing.

  • The petitioning spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the circuit court in the county where they live.

  • The respondent spouse must be notified of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

  • If the respondent spouse files an Answer that disagrees with anything in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the petitioning spouse must file a Notice for Trial and both spouses will proceed with a contested dissolution of marriage.

  • The final judgment of the dissolution of marriage may not be entered until at least 20 days after the date the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed, in most cases.

Whenever the respondent spouse disagrees with any item in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the divorce becomes a contested divorce, and typically requires the help of an experienced family law attorney who can ensure each party receives what they deserve.

In less frequent instances, the respondent spouse files an Answer that agrees with all terms in the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This is considered an uncontested divorce. Once the petitioning spouse has complied with all mandatory disclosures and filed all necessary paperwork, they may set a date for a final hearing to dissolve the marriage.

Is Divorce Right for Me?

It’s important to keep in mind that a divorce is not the only way to end your marriage. Annulment and legal separation are also viable options to consider.

Annulment

An annulment is a legal decree that a marriage is null and void. An annulment is granted when a court determines that a marriage is invalid. Rather than ending a legal marriage, an annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed in the first place.

The end result of an annulment is the same as a divorce: both parties are single and may remarry or enter into a domestic partnership with another person. The court presiding over an annulment may make determinations on child custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets—just like in a divorce.

In order to obtain an annulment, one of the following requirements must be met:

  • The marriage was incestuous.

  • The marriage was bigamous.

  • The marriage was the result of force or fraud.

  • The marriage took place when one or both of the spouses were younger than the legal age to marry.

  • The marriage took place when one or both of the spouses were already in a legal marriage.

  • The marriage took place when one or both of the spouses were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is a legally-recognized separation between spouses. It’s important to keep in mind that a legal separation does not officially end the marriage. In a legal separation, spouses may not remarry or enter into a domestic partnership with another person.

Legal separations are helpful because many states require spouses to be married for a set amount of time before filing for divorce. They allow spouses to remain legally married, yet physically separated, so the time requirement for divorce may be met.

Property Division in a Florida Divorce

Something that concerns many spouses planning to get a divorce is how their assets will be distributed during and after the divorce. Luckily, Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means the state requires that marital assets and debts be distributed in a fair and equitable manner.

The Florida court will consider the following factors when determining asset division:

  • The contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care of any children and services as a homemaker

  • Any interruptions of careers or educational opportunities of either party

  • The economic circumstances of each party

  • The duration of the marriage

Seeking a Divorce in Florida? Contact Us Today

If you’re seeking a divorce in Florida, our Jacksonville family law attorneys are here to help. At Owenby Law, we’ll build and implement a personalized strategy specifically for your divorce. When you’re represented by our firm, you can have peace of mind knowing that we will protect your rights and interests.

Contact us today at (904) 770-3141 to learn how we can assist you.

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