If you are looking to get a divorce in Florida, it is best to understand the divorce laws that the state adheres to. Being aware of the divorce laws in Florida will help you form reasonable expectations about your divorce, and will ensure that you make informed decisions regarding your coming legal case.
Important Divorce Laws In Florida
- Residency requirements – One of the parties in the divorce must reside in the state for at least six months before Florida will grant a dissolution of marriage.
- Legal grounds for divorce – Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means that there does not need to be any fault for a divorce to be granted, one only has to state that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Mental incapacity can also be used as a grounds for divorce if it has lasted three years or longer.
- Mediation – The court may require counseling or mediation to resolve differences among the two parties. This can happen in situations involving children – including disagreements over child custody, child support and child visitation. If an agreement is reached between the two parties the mediator will present this agreement to the court.
- Distribution of property – Florida practices “equal distribution”, which means that the state focuses on dividing property equally and fairly among the two parties. If one or both parties desires that the distribution be unequal, they will have to present evidence as to why this should be the case. Factors that the court will consider include the financial situation of both parties, the contribution each made to the marriage, the length of the marriage, the contribution of one spouse to the other, the need for a home for the children and the waste of marital assets by a party. The process of distributing property equitably can be time consuming and expensive, which is why Florida encourages divorcing couples to reach an agreement beforehand if at all possible. This can save the state and the divorcing parties a great deal of money and usually results in an agreement that both sides are more easily able to adhere to.
- Alimony – Florida can grant alimony or spousal support in certain circumstances. This can be for any time period and the court may take into consideration fault in the divorce when considering alimony. Some considerations of the court concerning alimony will include the length of the marriage, the standard of living each spouse was accustomed to in the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, the time it will take to retrain or reeducate one party to reenter the workforce, the earning capabilities of each party and all sources of income for each.
- Child custody – The court is primarily interested in the welfare of the child. All decisions related to child custody will hinge on this. The state wants the child to live in a happy and healthy home and will take a number of factors into consideration, including the financial situation of each spouse, the spouse more likely to allow visitation, the child's current circumstances and the need to maintain those standards, the parenting abilities of each parent, evidence of abuse or violence and a number of other factors.
- Child support – The court is always interested in the well being of the child and will make decisions based upon this standard. Florida expects both parents to help with the raising of the child and will award child support to balance the burden between each party. It will look at the financial situation of both parties, the ability of the non-custodial parent to pay child support, the contribution of the custodial parent to the arrangement and several other factors to determine the amount of child support. The court may also enter a provision to keep the child insured with health insurance when it is possible to do so, and it may require a life insurance policy to ensure that the support awarded by the court continues to be paid.