What Every Couple Needs to Know About Getting Divorced in Florida

Divorce is never easy. If you’re considering divorcing your spouse, it may be difficult even to read about the process you’re about to undertake. That said, a strong understanding of the law can help you face the months ahead with greater confidence, and it is important to note that every state has its own set of rules and procedures when it comes to the various elements involved in obtaining a divorce. If you live in Florida, you should get to know the particulars of Florida marriage dissolution before you take any form of legal action.

1) The residency requirement states that at least one spouse must be a Florida resident for six months prior to filing for divorce. This keeps the courts from overflowing with people who would otherwise come from out of state to get divorced in Florida. There is also a 20-day waiting period for couples who may end up reconciling their differences.

2) You or your spouse can begin the divorce process by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage form with the court. The petition basically states that your marriage is broken and cannot be salvaged, or that you have “irreconcilable differences” with your spouse. The filing spouse will list any preferences in terms of handling the division of property, insurance, debts, alimony, custody, child support, and others. The other spouse must file a formal response to the petition.

3) If you can both agree on the stated terms, you can sign a settlement agreement and proceed with your divorce. You might also disagree at first, and then get a mediator to help you make an arrangement that satisfies you both. Each of these scenarios would fall under the category of uncontested divorce, which tends to be the most efficient route.

4) A contested divorce involves a trial and is therefore longer, more stressful, and more expensive. You will need to argue for your desired terms and provide evidence to back them up. A judge will make decisions to resolve each of the contested issues.

5) Because Florida is a no-fault state, you don’t need to claim that your marriage should end because your spouse did something wrong. Allegations of cruelty, adultery, and other misconduct will not be considered in the initial petition for a marriage dissolution.

6) Allegations of fault can come into play when the court is deciding how much alimony to award, if any. Alimony is only granted if the requesting spouse needs financial support and the paying spouse is able to pay the cost. Aside from a spouse’s wrongdoing, a court will consider several factors when awarding alimony, including: the length of the marriage; the physical and emotional state of each spouse; the financial resources distributed to each spouse in the divorce; the time it would take one spouse to get training for the purpose of employment; and many others.

7) Along with alimony, a judge may have to decide how you will divide the marital property. The court will follow the rule of equitable distribution as outlined by Florida law. Rather than enforcing a 50/50 split of property acquired during marriage, the rule supports a fair distribution based on the facts of the case. More specifically, a judge will look at how each of you contributed to the marital assets throughout your marriage.

8) If your divorce involves children, a contested divorce could also involve a court-issued decision about custody, visitation, and child support. The judge will consider your child’s best interests when deciding where the child will live, how often the non-custodial parent can visit with the child, who will make major decisions about the child’s welfare, and how much financial support one parent can receive for the child’s care, among others.

While it helps to know the key facts about marriage dissolution in Florida, it’s even better to have support from someone who knows the legal system inside and out. Call Sanchez Law to get in touch with a divorce attorney who can answer your questions in an informed and compassionate manner. You can rest assured that we will be there to guide you every step of the way.

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