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Florida Divorce Laws

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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:

Florida State Laws

  • Fault/No-Fault: No Fault
  • Property Distribution: Equitable
  • ADR Available: Yes
  • Parenting Plan Required: No

Florida Grounds for Divorce

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:

  • Irretrievable breakdown in the marriage
  • Mental incapacity of one spouse

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.

Florida Residency Requirements

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.

Florida Divorce Waiting Period

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 Property Division

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:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Economic circumstances of each spouse
  • Each spouse's contribution to the marriage, including as a homemaker
  • Any interruptions of careers or education opportunities of either spouse
  • If one spouse contributed to the other spouse's career or educational growth
  • The desire to retain particular assets without claim or interference by the other party
  • Each spouse's contribution to the acquisition, enhancement and production of income or improvement of marital and nonmarital assets
  • Any intentional dissipation, waste, depletion or destruction of marital assets two years before or after the divorce petition has been filed
  • The desire to reside in the marital home and if it is in the best interest of the child or the party making the request
  • Other issues that will help make the property division equal and just between the parties

Florida property division can vary greatly, depending on the circumstances of the divorce.

Florida Maintenance

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:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Standard of living established in the marriage
  • Age, health and emotional condition of each spouse
  • Each spouse's financial resources
  • If one of the spouses will need to spend time getting an education or training to find appropriate employment
  • Contribution by each spouse to the marriage, including as a homemaker or career building of the other spouse
  • Available sources of income to each spouse
  • Any other factors that will help determine what is equal and just for each party

Florida Child Custody - Parenting Plans

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:

  • Parents' ability to maintain a close relationship with the child
  • Parents' capacity to determine and accommodate the needs of the child
  • Geographic location of the parents
  • Parents' ability to provide a stable living environment for the child
  • Mental and physical health of the parents
  • Any evidence of violence, abuse, neglect or abandonment of the child
  • Developmental needs of the child
  • Any other relevant factors

Florida Grandparent Visitation

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:

  • Willingness of the grandparents to encourage a close relationship between the child and both parents
  • Length and quality of the relationship between the child and grandparents
  • Child's preference, if the child is mature enough to express preference
  • Mental and physical health of the child
  • Grandparents' mental and physical health
  • Other relevant factors the divorce court may think necessary to consider

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.

Florida Child Support

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.

Florida Child Support Enforcement

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:

  • Suspending Florida driver's license
  • Intercepting state and IRS tax refunds
  • Taking support from unemployment and worker's compensation payments
  • Garnishing wages
  • Intercepting Florida lottery winning over $600
  • Liens on cars, boats or other property
  • Reporting unpaid child support to credit agencies
  • Placing a hold and taking money from bank accounts
  • Issuing an arrest warrant

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.