Divorce in Florida
Florida’s “dissolution of marriage” requires only that one party be able to prove that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Some marriages cannot be saved, and while divorce can be amicable, there are times when the situation gets highly contentious. During a divorce, there are numerous issues that need to be resolved, and the process can be complicated. For this reason, it is important to have strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.
At Smith & McGhee, we fight for our clients, ensuring that our clients’ rights are upheld. We’ve handled countless divorces in both Alabama and Florida, and we can help you manage either a civilian divorce or a military divorce. We understand that divorce can take a major emotional and financial toll on those involved, and we are here to provide skilled legal guidance and moral support.
Florida’s Laws on Divorce
A marriage must be irretrievably broken for a divorce to be granted, and as a no-fault state, this is a requirement that is easy to prove. Florida’s laws have few requirements when getting a divorce, including:
- One party must be a resident of Florida, living in the state for a minimum of six months
If one party has been a resident in the state for six months, you can file a divorce petition. There is one more circumstance where a divorce may be granted: mental incapacitation.
You can file a petition for divorce on the basis of mental incapacitation if the other party meets the following requirements:
- Sustained mental incapacitation for a period of at least three years
Incapacitation can include mental or physical disabilities that prevent a person from being able to make their own, independent legal decisions. These decisions would include divorce, signing contracts and marrying someone.
Incapacitation does not remove spousal benefits. The defendant spouse, despite their incapacitation, has just as much right to the martial property as the plaintiff spouse. The defendant spouse who is incapacitated may also be awarded alimony.
Filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Florida
There are two primary ways to file for dissolution in Florida:
- Regular Dissolution of Marriage
- Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
Regular Dissolution of Marriage begins with filing a divorce petition in the circuit court where either party has resided for a minimum of six months. This can be the county in which the couple last lived together, or the county where at least one party still resides.
The plaintiff spouse, the spouse seeking dissolution, will file the petition in which the defendant spouse must respond to within 20 days of being served.
When responding, the defendant spouse has a right to file a counter-petition, which will raise issues that the court must address.
Once the filing is done and a response is given, additional steps may be taken:
- Each party will have to complete a financial affidavit within 45 days of the service of petition. Automatic financial disclosure is required in all cases where financial relief is a requirement, such as child-support.
- Spouses that cannot agree on all matters will have the terms and conditions of the divorce negotiated by their attorneys. Through negotiation, the parties can often come to an agreement on matters such as child custody and division of assets.
- Settlement terms will then be finalized. Parties will have to reach an outcome and enter into a written agreement, which is then submitted to the court.
Settlements are beneficial because they will help streamline a divorce and puts all of the terms of the divorce in the hands of the spouses rather than leaving decisions up to the court.
A contested final hearing is not a desired outcome and will result in a “trial” in which each party will have to testify and present evidence to the court. The court will have the power to decide on issues that the spouses could not agree on.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is ideal, but it is less common than a regular dissolution. Spouses that can agree on all matters and file all of the documentation properly can seek a simplified dissolution of marriage.
Both parties will need to meet the following requirements for a simplified divorce:
- Not seek alimony
- Neither party can be pregnant
- Both parties must agree on the divorce
- There must be no dependent children or children under 18 years old involved
- Division of property and debts must be agreed upon
- No adopted children under the age of 18 must exist
- Both parties must agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken
If all of the requirements are met, the spouses can go through with a simplified dissolution of marriage. Attorneys can be hired to represent either party, and the cost of legal services are traditionally much lower in a simplified divorce due to a lack of complexity.
Financial Information Disclosure
Florida requires that both parties sign a financial affidavit within 45 days of receiving their dissolution forms. Both parties will need to provide financial details, including:
- Bank statements
- Debt (credit card statements and loan statements)
- Financial statements
- Personal income documentation
- Tax returns
A complete list of assets will also need to be included. All of this information must be submitted accurately. Our attorneys will thoroughly review all of this documentation, ensuring that all of the financial information is properly filed.
The financial information disclosed will impact many aspects of the divorce settlement, including:
- Child support
- Division of assets
- Division of debt
Our team will work with you, ensuring that your interests are fully protected throughout the process. A divorce will have a lasting impact on your future and agreeing to terms that you do not completely understand could be detrimental.
Florida’s divorce laws are complex, and even in an amicable divorce, you may be forfeiting assets, taking on unnecessary debt or being bullied into an agreement that is not in your best interest. We fight for our clients so that your divorce is fair and just. We’ll handle all of the complicated issues from alimony to child support and child custody. If you are facing a divorce in Florida, call us today at 334-702-1744 to schedule a personalized consultation.