By Mike Stetzer
When filing for divorce in Florida, there are specific divorce laws dealing with alimony, property distribution, child support and child custody. State divorce laws are complex and detailed, so speak with a local Florida divorce lawyer about how your divorce may be affected by divorce law.
For your convenience, the chart below summarizes a few of the key concepts of Florida's divorce laws:
In Florida, divorce courts accept no fault ground for divorce. In no fault divorce, either spouse may file for divorce without stating one party was at fault or showing cause for the dissolution of the marriage. A divorce will be granted if one of the following situations happened:
Before filing for divorce, you will need to meet the Florida residency requirement. There may be a period of time during which you and your spouse will need to live separately to show the Florida divorce court that reconciliation isn't possible. Divorce laws may enforce other Florida divorce waiting periods during the divorce process.
Before the Florida divorce court will accept a divorce petition, either the petitioner or the respondent must have lived in the state for six months before filing for divorce. The divorce petition may be filed in the county where either spouse lives.
When establishing residency in Florida, there may be other requirements you must meet to show you are a resident. A local Florida divorce lawyer can further explain to you the standards defined in state statutes.
Many state divorce laws set divorce waiting periods and remarriage waiting periods. The designated time periods may be before filing for divorce, after filing and after the final decree is entered. These waiting periods help ensure that reconciliation between the couple isn't possible and the divorce is legal before another marriage is recognized by the state.
Florida divorce law doesn't enforce a divorce waiting period before filing the divorce petition. As long as the Florida residency requirement is met, you can file for divorce when you are ready. Once the divorce petition is filed, Florida divorce law requires a 20 day waiting period, but the divorce court can enter a judgment of divorce earlier if it feels that would be better with the circumstances of the case. Either spouse can remarry anytime after the divorce decree is final; there isn't a remarriage waiting period in Florida.
Florida divorce courts use equitable distribution when determining property distribution. This means that the courts divides property by what it considers fair for each spouse in the divorce. To determine what's fair, Florida divorce courts consider the following factors:
Florida property division can vary greatly, depending on the circumstances of the divorce.
Florida maintenance can also be called spousal support or alimony. Under Florida divorce laws, the divorce courts may grant alimony to either spouse. Depending on the circumstances of the divorce, maintenance awards may be temporary, also known as rehabilitative, or permanent. When determining maintenance, the divorce court can consider whether a spouse committed adultery and the circumstances of the situation to make an alimony award. The Florida divorce courts may also consider:
In Florida divorce courts, a court-approved Parenting Plan is needed when minor children are involved in the divorce case. The parents will work together to develop a Parenting Plan that should describe how the parents will share responsibility for the upbringing of the child. The Parenting Plan will need to describe how many issues will be handled, including time-sharing arrangements and who will be responsible for the child's health-care and school issues.
If the parents cannot agree on a Parenting Plan, or the court will not approve the Parenting Plan, the court will establish the Parenting Plan. In determining the Parenting Plan, the court will consider what is in the best interest of the child. Some of the several factors the court will consider in determining the best interest of the child include:
Not all states automatically grant visitation rights for grandparents. Under Florida laws, grandparents who want child visitation rights may petition the divorce court for visitation rights. The Florida courts will consider the petition and decide if granting grandparent visitation rights is in the best interest of the child, which is determined by considering:
However, the Florida Supreme Court has since ruled that some provisions of the statute governing grandparent visitation rights are unconstitutional because the statute allowed the state to interfere with parents' rights to raise their children free from government intervention. Florida courts have stated that when divorced parents of a child agree that the court should not order grandparent visitation rights, it would be a violation of the the parents' right to privacy for the courts to order those visitation rights against the parents' wishes.
When a divorce or separation happens, the Florida divorce system may order either parent to pay child support payments. The amount and schedule of payments will depend on the circumstances of the divorce and the child's needs.
Typically, Florida child support is calculated by estimating the support the child would have received in the family would have stayed together. That estimated amount is then divided proportionally according to each parent's incomes.
Unpaid child support is a serious problem in every state. Each state has developed a child support enforcement agency to help collect unpaid child support. In Florida child support enforcement includes penalties, such as:
The information provided is for illustration purposes only and is not legal advice. If you would like more information about Florida divorce law and Florida divorce process, speak to a Florida divorce attorney practicing near you. Connect today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a Florida divorce case review.
The above synopsis of Florida divorce laws is by no means all-inclusive and has been adapted from applicable state laws. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local Florida divorce lawyer in your area.
This "Florida Divorce Laws" page was last updated May, 2013.
Note: Keep in mind that all divorce laws are complex. If you need legal divorce advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local divorce attorney.