Grounds for Divorce in Florida
Florida is a no-fault divorce state. You can get a divorce without pointing fingers and blaming someone for the split. Instead, you can legally ask the state to grant your divorce on one of two grounds:
- Irretrievably damaged marriage, or
- Mental incapacitation.
You’ve probably heard the term “irreconcilable differences.” It means that spouses have issues that won’t be resolved, no matter how hard they try. That’s basically what an irretrievably damaged marriage is. You don’t have to say why your marriage is damaged or what prompted you to request a divorce.
If you don’t have kids, your spouse can’t argue that your marriage isn’t irretrievably broken. However, if you do share young children, your spouse can fight to keep the marriage alive. They can ask a court to order counseling so that you can try to save the relationship and avoid a divorce. A court will generally give parents three months to try to work things out.
The state will also grant a divorce if one spouse has been mentally incapacitated for at least three years.
Divorce Residency Requirements
You can only get a divorce in Florida if you (or your spouse) satisfy the state’s residency requirements. This means that you (or your spouse) must have lived in the Florida county in which you’ll file your divorce papers for the last six months. A court will not accept your divorce petition until one of you has satisfied this requirement.
How Does the Divorce Process Begin?
The divorce process begins when one spouse, called the petitioner, files the appropriate paperwork his a circuit court clerk. These include the:
- Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage,
- Social Security Affidavit,
- Financial Affidavit, and
- Uniform Child Custody Justification and Enforcement (UCCJEA) Affidavit (if necessary).
Once the forms are filed and the filing fees have been paid, they need to make their way to the other spouse through a process called service.
Service means that the divorce papers are formally delivered to the non-petitioning spouse, known as the respondent.
The process can’t officially begin until service has been completed. Service gives the respondent the opportunity to learn about the divorce and respond with an Answer to the terms proposed in the papers. This is the respondent’s chance to contest things like property division, child custody, or financial support.
Minimum Waiting Period
Once the process gets underway, you’ll have to wait a minimum of 20 days to have the divorce finalized. A court will only agree to finalize the split earlier than that if there are certain extenuating circumstances, such as abuse.
Mandatory Financial Disclosures
Dividing and allocating marital assets is one of the most challenging parts of a divorce. To make sure that the process includes all assets and debts, both spouses are requested to complete a Financial Affidavit and submit it to the court. This Affidavit must include a full accounting of all of the spouse’s separate property, as well as anything both spouses own together. This can include information about:
- Wages and income
- Checking and savings accounts
- Real estate
- Vehicles and personal property
- Credit cards
- Stocks and financial portfolios
- Retirement benefits
- Intellectual property
- Business interests, and more.
Be prepared to have documents about your finances and assets, such as tax returns and bank statements.
Each spouse must submit this Affidavit within 45 days of service.
Terms of a Divorce are Binding
Once at least 20 days have passed and the terms of the divorce have been set, a court can sign off and approve the dissolution of marriage. This will formally terminate the legal relationship between the spouses. Each spouse will become a single person. Once the divorce is final, the terms agreed upon are legally binding. Those terms are protected by the court. If things change later in life, a spouse can file a petition to modify the order.
It’s important to be fully aware of your legal rights and options as you work through a divorce. The longer a divorce takes, the more expensive it’ll be. Mistakes are easy to make when you’re unfamiliar with the process. The best thing you can do is let an experienced Orlando divorce attorney advocate on your behalf.
Our lawyers will handle every aspect of your contested or uncontested divorce. We’ll stand by your side from the moment you file until a judge formally dissolves your marriage. We’ll help you determine what’s most important to you and fight to make sure that you get it. Our goal is to do what’s best for you and your family.
Modification of Order
Court orders pertaining to custody or support aren’t set in stone. You always have the option of asking a court to modify an order if circumstances change. Maybe you lost your job and aren’t able to satisfy your alimony obligations. Or, perhaps you don’t think your kids are safe with your ex anymore. Whatever the case, you do have the right to ask to change the terms of your family law court orders.
However, a judge will only agree to modify an order for good cause. Having a lawyer on your side can make all the difference in the world. Our Orlando family law attorneys will put together a strong argument and support it with the evidence necessary to get the result you want.
When you’re married, you don’t have to think about which parent will pay to feed, clothe, house, and educate your kids. That’s just something you do together. Things get more complicated when you and your spouse separate or get divorced.
If you have custody of the kids, you might also be entitled to financial assistance from the child’s other parent. Our attorneys will help you secure the financial support you need to take care of your children.
You have certain rights as a parent. In Florida, both parents are considered to have equal rights under the law. It doesn’t matter if you’re married or not. Unless your actions or behavior pose a threat to your child, those rights cannot be infringed. Unfortunately, when parents disagree, kids can sometimes get caught in the middle.
Our attorneys are here to help you enforce your parental rights. We’ll help you establish or contest paternity. We’ll make sure that your custody plan is respected and that you aren’t kept from seeing your children. Children deserve both of their parents, and we’ll help you make that happen.
Orders relating to issues like child custody, child support, and spousal support have to be respected and followed. If your ex refuses to let you see your kids or hasn’t fulfilled their financial support obligations, they’ve violated a court order. Fortunately, the law is on your side.
Our Orlando family law attorneys will help you enforce your lawful court orders, whether they’re related to a divorce or not. We can sit down and discuss the issue with your ex and their attorney, or we can petition the court to step in. If necessary, we can ask a judge to hold your ex in contempt of court, which is a crime. We can use the fact that your ex violated a family law order to your advantage. Orders can be modified, often to your benefit, when your ex demonstrates that they aren’t interested in respecting the court.
Florida is an equitable division state, meaning that each spouse is entitled to a “fair” share of the marital assets. Fair doesn’t always mean equal.
Courts consider several factors when allocating assets and debts.
These can include your ability to earn, things you might have forfeited in your marriage, or a history of abuse.
Our Orlando property division lawyers will help you make sure that what’s “fair” is decided on your terms.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Sometimes spouses just don’t see eye to eye when getting a divorce. Fortunately, there are tools available to help you navigate the process. Our attorneys can stand by your side during mediation, litigate your case in private arbitration, or sit down to hash out a collaborative divorce.
Each process has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to understand each one clearly before making a decision. We’ll help you choose the dispute resolution process that’s best suited for your particular case.
Recovery of Attorney Fees
Does your spouse have the ability to spend more money than you on a divorce? Are they making ridiculous claims and filing frivolous motions? Have they been abusive to you or your kids? If any of these are true, you might be able to force them to pay for your attorney fees.
There’s no guarantee that a judge will order your spouse to cover the cost of your attorney. However, it’s something you should consider asking for if the divorce is unaffordable or your spouse has engaged in misconduct. Our attorneys will do whatever we can to make it happen.
Domestic violence and abuse are far too common. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself if you or your family have been abused by someone you love. Our attorneys are always here to help you during this difficult time. We’ll petition the court for an injunction, which can temporarily prevent your spouse from contacting or visiting you. This can give you time to file for a divorce and get your family somewhere safe. Do not hesitate to reach out to us for immediate assistance if you or your children have been abused.
Our Orlando legal team also has experience dealing with false domestic violence allegations. Find out how we can assist you.
Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements
Florida has some pretty strict divorce laws. It’s an equitable division state, meaning that you’ll be awarded a “fair” share of the marital assets. This could mean that you get much less (or much more) than your spouse when you split up. It can be tough to have control over who gets what. Fortunately, you can sidestep Florida divorce law if you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Our attorneys can help you design a prenup or postnup that dictates how your property will be divided if you get divorced. With a prenup or postnup, you can have a degree of control over your divorce and make sure that you walk away with what you really want.
Spousal support – or alimony – can be necessary to help you get back on your feet after a divorce. Since you’re ending your marriage, your spouse probably won’t just be willing to fork over money after you’re divorced. You’ll need to convince a court that you need some financial assistance in the months or years after your marriage.
We’ll help you persuade a judge to award you alimony after your divorce. We’ll point out that there’s a huge disparity in income or that you gave up your job to take care of the family while you were married. Our goal is to make sure that you’re financially settled when you’re on your own. If you need help in Orlando, FL or Orange County, give us a call to begin your free consultation.
If you’re getting a divorce, you’ll have to figure out which parent will have custody of the kids, and when. This tends to be one of the biggest challenges for divorcing couples. Nothing is more important than your children. It’s essential to remember to put their interests and wellbeing above everything else.
Our law group will help you negotiate a custody arrangement that works for your entire family. If you have concerns about your spouse’s ability to take care of your children, our attorneys will make sure that they’re protected. Your children will be our first priority.
When you and your spouse disagree about anything – property division, custody, support – you’ll have what is known as a contested divorce. You’ll have a contested divorce even if you agree about all of the terms…except one. Contested divorces can be expensive and take a lot of time to resolve. Why? Because a court won’t finalize a divorce until all of the terms are resolved. This means you and your spouse have to find a way to agree on issues that are very close to your heart.
Our attorneys will help you work through your divorce and work hard to resolve any disputes that may prevent the process from moving forward. We’ll identify what you want to get out of your divorce and fight to make those terms a reality. If necessary, we’ll use tools like mediation and arbitration to help move discussions with your spouse move in the right direction. We’re skilled negotiators and will do everything we can to help you resolve your divorce disputes quickly and in your favor.
There are times when spouses get divorced and see eye-to-eye on everything. You agree about how property should be divided and how custody of the kids should be arranged. When this happens, its called an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce tends to cost a lot less and can be finalized a lot quicker than a contested dispute.
Even though uncontested divorces are easier, it’s still important to get the help of an attorney. You need to make sure that your rights are protected and the terms are favorable for you. Our attorneys will help you navigate the process as painlessly as possible.
Life in the military can be stressful and hard on a relationship. Getting a divorce when one spouse is in the military can be incredibly complicated. If you’ve moved around a lot, you may not satisfy any residency requirements. You may also have property all over the country, which can certainly complicate things. If you have kids, it can be difficult to compromise and agree about where they should be raised after the divorce.
Our family law attorneys have decades of experience helping military families navigate the divorce process. We understand how complicated your life is and will fight to make your divorce as straightforward as possible. We’ll work with you to resolve the matter quickly and do what’s best for your family.
Since 2015, same-sex couples have had the right to get married in Florida. Sometimes same-sex marriages just don’t work out. Since laws are still trying to catch up with the times, getting a divorce can be complicated if you’re in a gay marriage. Issues like child custody and property division can be particularly challenging.
We work hard to stay up-to-date on all of the changes in Florida divorce law, including those affecting LGBT couples. You can trust that we’ll stand by your side throughout the entire divorce process and fight to get you the results you want. We’ll work to uncomplicate the process and do what’s best for you and your family. file a petition to modify those terms.