A simple and easy to understand overview of divorce laws in Florida with links to Florida statutes and court information.
Divorce is rarely a happy occasion and understanding the laws surrounding a divorce can make a divorce less stressful.
Chapter 61 of Florida statutes, titled Dissolution of Marriage; Support; Time Sharing, is the law covering issues surrounding divorces.
The general purposes as defined in chapter 61 are to preserve the integrity of marriage and to safeguard meaningful family relationships.
Also, to promote the amicable settlement of disputes that arise between parties to a marriage, and finally to mitigate the potential harm to the spouses and their children caused by the process of legal dissolution of marriage.
As you can see from these purposes, the state does not look at
marriage or divorce lightly and like all statutes, certain conditions
must be met.
Florida Divorce Law & Dissolution of Marriage
The legal word for divorce as listed in the Florida statutes is dissolution of marriage.
To obtain dissolution of marriage in Florida, at least one of the people involved in the divorce must reside in the state at least 6 months before filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
The other party may live out of state, in state, or in the same county.
Once the petition is filed in the circuit court, there is a waiting period of 20 days before the court will take action to allow time for the other party to respond.
Additionally, the Florida divorce law states that there are only two reasons dissolution of marriage may be granted.
The first reason is if the marriage is irretrievably broken and the second is if one of the partners has a mental incapacity that lasted three years.
After a divorce is filed, the biggest questions that arise involve alimony and the distribution of marital assets.
Florida divorce law is clear in stating that either party in a divorce can claim alimony in the petition or answer to the petition for divorce.
If the court finds the request well founded it will allow a
reasonable sum to a requesting party either to be paid in a specified
amount or permanent allotment.
In terms of the distribution of marital assets and liabilities, according to 61.075 in Florida statutes, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal unless there is justification otherwise.
The considerations include contributions by each spouse including
services as a homemaker, the economic circumstances of both parties,
the duration of the marriage, and interruptions in personal careers and
Florida divorce law considers retirement plans in terms of the overall investment during the marriage.
In addition to actual assets, the court considers whether each party has the desire to hold on to an asset or business.
Debts are also considered under Florida divorce law, and the court tries to be equitable in terms of who caused the debt and whether it is personal or joint.
The marital home also comes into question based on whether or not a minor child lives in the residence and it is the desire of either party to keep it.
If the court determines it is in the best interest of a child to remain in the marital home then it may be awarded to one party until the child is no longer a minor or is emancipated.
In these proceedings if one of the parties intentionally dissipates, wastes, depletes, or destroys marital assets after the filing of the petition or within 2 years prior to the filing of the petition, that also becomes a factor considered by the court when distributing assets.
This area of the law is then finalized by stating any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties can be used by the court.
The reason for this final statement is due to issues that have arisen over the years between couples.
Child support is mandatory for a parent living away from their child. It does not matter whether it was the choice of the parent residing away from their child.
The court will set the amount of child support to be given along with the custody and visitation rights of both parties.
Once a determination on assets is made, it is up to the parties to follow court orders until either both parties agree to terminate the judgment or a judgment is paid in full.
Once an award is decided, it must be paid in full or installments until it is paid off.
In all cases regarding contested divorce actions, the distribution of marital assets must be supported by factual findings and evidence.
No matter the issue, whether it is child support, debt, or asset payments, the court can order garnishment of wages. For this reason, it is in the best interest of everyone to pay any debts the court assigns.
As you can see, they attempted to address many issues in the Florida statutes. This overview in no way encompasses all of the information listed in chapter 61.
Other issues addressed are criminal issues, different problems that arise with child support, attorney fees, court fees, a social investigation when a child is involved, retroactive child support, and how much child support is due based on available monthly income.
Anyone seeking a Florida divorce or Florida divorce resources should consult chapter 61 and read all of the issues surrounding dissolution of marriage.
Anyone with minor children or seeking a contested divorce should consult a Florida divorce lawyer for any issues that may arise.
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