Florida Family Law: A Guide to Filing for Divorce

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Are you thinking about getting divorced in Florida? If so, you’re not alone. The 2022 divorce rate in Florida is 13 percent. This process is often emotional and confusing. Speaking to a Florida family law firm gives you support and guidance. Keep reading to learn about each step of the process of filing for divorce in Florida.

Filing for Divorce in Florida

In Florida, the terms “dissolution of marriage” and “divorce” are used interchangeably. According to Florida Divorce Law 61.052, you don’t have to prove a specific reason such as adultery. You must only show that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

You may file for divorce if your spouse is mentally incapacitated. Florida requires a legal authority’s diagnosis of mental incompetence. After at least three years, you may then petition for divorce.

Hiring a family law attorney can help you achieve the smoothest settlement possible. The following guide describes the steps for how to file for divorce in Florida.

Steps to File for Divorce in Florida

There are several steps involved in the divorce process. Find an attorney skilled in family law in Florida to protect your best interests.

1. Submit Divorce Forms

To begin the divorce process in Florida, you need to file a petition with the state. An attorney will help you select and submit the correct form. There are four different forms depending on your situation.

  • Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
  • Divorce when there are minor or dependent children
  • Divorce involving property but no minor or dependent children
  • Divorce that doesn’t involve property, minors, or dependent children.

2. Notify Your Spouse

You’re legally obligated to have divorce documents served to your spouse. This may be done in person or via a process server, county sheriff’s office, or your legal representative.

3. Respond to a Notification of Divorce Proceedings

The spouse that receives the divorce papers must submit an “Answer” to the court within 20 days. This states whether they agree or disagree with the petition.

If they don’t file an Answer in 20 days, you may submit a Motion for Default. After the judge approves your motion, they’ll complete the divorce.

They usually grant your petition and don’t consider your spouse’s opinions. This doesn’t mean you’re released from dividing assets and liabilities equitably.

If you can’t find your spouse, ask your lawyer for help. This ensures that you meet the court’s standard for an adequate search.

The court can then grant a “Constructive Service” dissolution of the marriage.  Yet, they’re unable to order alimony, child support, or settle debt and asset claims.

4. Which Type of Divorce

Contested divorces involve a disagreement with the petition’s allegations. It’s vital to have a lawyer representing your interests.

The court may order marital counseling if one party doesn’t want a divorce. In other cases, the judge can delay proceedings for 90 days to give time for reconciliation. They may also choose to appoint a mediator to work on resolving conflicts.

If this fails, the court rules on unresolved issues. Your lawyer provides evidence to support your allegations and requests.

Illicit behavior isn’t grounds for divorce in Florida. Yet, it can affect child custody and asset division.

When both parties agree on the major issues, you can get an uncontested divorce.

5. Divide Your Assets

Florida promotes “equitable distribution” for dividing liabilities and assets. The judge considers several factors. For example:

  • Contributions, including financial, to the marriage
  • Each person’s educational or career sacrifices
  • Each spouse’s liability totals
  • Marriage length
  • The couple’s economic circumstances
  • The level of contribution to income growth for each spouse

Destroying or wasting assets after filing for divorce can impact asset division.

If you’ve separated, Florida law doesn’t factor this into spousal property rights. Anything you get after separating may still count as marital assets.

To avoid this, ask your attorney to draft a post-nuptial agreement. Or, sign a written agreement that new assets acquired while separated aren’t considered.

The court examines all prenuptial agreements and income earned from separate property. Assets owned before the marriage that weren’t commingled are often exempt.

6. Spousal Support

Alimony describes financial support given to an ex-spouse. The goal is to keep the same standard of living as during the marriage. Divorce judges consider the following criteria:

  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage
  • Marital standard of living
  • Marriage length
  • Spouse’s financial resources
  • Spouse’s health and age
  • Spouse’s time spent completing professional training or education

These factors create a picture of the financial disparity between the two parties. Based on these findings, they award any of five types of alimony. This includes “bridge the gap”, durational, temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent alimony.

The judge can order periodic or lump sum payments. In some cases, they may order the spouse to make a combination of alimony support types.

7. Florida Family Law Addressing Child Custody

If the parents can’t agree on child custody arrangements, the court steps in. Florida law doesn’t hold a preference for mothers or fathers in custody matters. Judges examine specific circumstances and facts for each case.

Divorcing parents must complete the Parenting Education and Stabilization course. Florida also follows the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This has two primary objectives:

  • Allow frequent and ongoing visits with both parents
  • Both parents share the responsibilities and rights in raising their child(ren)

The final judgment strives to meet the child’s best interests.

Florida courts follow the Florida Child Support Guidelines. This calculates the financial responsibility based on several factors.

First, they determine how much financial support each child needs. Custody arrangements and parents’ income are also factored in. The court can adjust these figures at any time.

8. Finalize the Divorce

Once the court completes all rulings, they’ll sign the Final Judgment of Dissolution. The divorce process takes at least 60 days.

Looking for the Best Family Law Attorney in Florida?

Are you facing divorce? Contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L, the experts in Florida family law. We provide family law in Florida with clarity, commitment, and cutting-edge technology.

Our team manages family matters regardless of U.S. citizenship status. We handle marital or domestic partnership agreements and child or spousal support issues. Contact us for child custody, divorce (including international cases), and post-divorce problems.

Get in touch today for a case evaluation.