Florida Divorce: What to Expect
Between, our economic, environmental, and cultural diversity, Florida is a place where people come together. But sometimes we can’t stop our relationships from falling apart. A divorce in Florida is a legal end of marital ties, releasing both spouses from their matrimonial obligations. Both spouses will be legally single following a divorce. That’s the simple part. This article covers the answers to some of the more complicated questions regarding divorce in Florida.
How Can I Get a Divorce in Florida?
In Florida, there are only a few legal requirements for divorce. The person filing for the divorce must be a state resident for at least six months before filing. Florida has what is known as “no fault divorce,” meaning you don’t have to prove your spouse did something wrong to get divorced in Florida. To get a no fault divorce, you can state that you cannot get along with your spouse and there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” in your marriage. You and your spouse also don’t need to agree to end the marriage. Either one of you can decide to end your marriage and the other can’t stop the process by refusing to participate, even if he or she doesn’t want a divorce. You might still be able to obtain a “default” judgment if your spouse or domestic partner doesn’t participate in the divorce case.
Under Florida law, you may also qualify for an annulment. This has the same legal effect as a divorce, but declares that your marriage was never valid to begin with. It is important to know which process applies to you, if any, before beginning divorce proceedings.
Do I Need an Attorney to Get Divorced?
Divorce doesn’t necessarily have to be a battle. If possible, you can talk with your spouse and see if you can reach an agreement concerning issues of child support, child custody and visitation, and property division. Generally, courts will accept a divorcing couple’s agreement, so long as it is not grossly unfair. If the court finds your agreement is adequate and sufficient, the agreement may be included in the divorce judgment. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement, the court may decide the issues upon which you cannot agree.
You have the right to represent yourself in a divorce proceeding, but you should be aware that divorce matters can be complex, and meeting with an attorney may help. If you and your spouse disagree or cannot talk prior to the meeting, you should be prepared to tell your attorney why it is that you want a divorce and bring any information that will assist in your case to your appointment. Generally, it can be a good idea to take an inventory of major shared assets and shared debts
How Long Can My Divorce Take?
The time it takes for a divorce to be finalized in Florida will depend on how much you and your spouse are able to cooperate and agree on the major issues of the divorce. Florida has a twenty (20) day waiting period from the time of filing before the court can issue a divorce decree. If your divorce is contested and a court must decide on any or all of the issues, the time will be based on how long it takes to gather all the necessary facts, witnesses, documents, etc. It will also depend on the court's calendar and docket. A contested divorce may drag on for months or even years.
Figuring out Florida family law can be a challenge, especially if children are involved. It could be helpful to meet with an experienced divorce attorney in Florida. You can also find additional general information on this topic in FindLaw’s divorce section.