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How to File for Divorce in Florida

Posted on February 26, 2016

Deciding to get divorced may be one of the hardest decisions a person has to make in life, and can feel overwhelming when a person factors in the logistics of actually filing for divorce with the emotions that come up when making such a life-altering decision. However, having a few key pieces of information showing the outline of a divorce case can make the process a little easier. To be sure, just by possessing knowledge about what to expect and the types of information you will need to show the court, you may be able to ease some of your concerns.

Grounds for Divorce

Like many states, Florida has no-fault divorce, which means it is not necessary to prove someone was at fault for the failure of the marriage. It is only necessary to say the marriage is irretrievably broken, and it is no longer possible to have a functional marriage. This is not to say that misbehavior has no impact on the outcome of divorce. Spouses who commit adultery, are cruel, or desert the other spouse could be penalized when it comes to issues like alimony, property division and child custody, but it is no longer necessary to prove bad acts to justify divorce.

Florida has one other ground to justify a divorce – mental incapacity of a spouse for at least three years. This claim is rarely used in divorce as it is much easier to just claim the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Residency

Once you establish grounds to file for divorce, the next step is to see if you fulfill the residency requirements. It is worth noting that where you file for divorce is not dependent on where you married. Each state has its own residency requirement that governs who can file for divorce. Florida law requires that at least one party to the divorce be a resident of Florida for a minimum of six months before filing a divorce petition in this state. Consequently, it is possible to file a divorce petition in Florida against someone residing in another state. The petition can be filed in the county where either party currently lives. Residency may be proven by any of the following documents:

  • a Florida driver’s license;
  • a Florida voter ID card;
  • a Florida ID; or
  • testimony or affidavit from a third party.
Parenting Class

The Florida legislature considers divorces that involve minor children to create a public policy concern because of the potential long and short-term effects legal conflict and separation can cause for children. As a result, Florida requires all parents that are part of a divorce or paternity action to attend a Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course, designed to inform the parents about the legal and psychological consequences of divorce on parents and children. The course must be at least four hours long and touch on subjects related to custody, child support and family dynamics, among others. The person who files for divorce has 45 days from the date the petition is filed to complete it, and the other party has 45 days once notice of the petition is received. A court will not grant a divorce until this requirement is met, so it is important to take the class as soon as reasonably possible.

Minimum Length of Time to Grant a Divorce

The minimum amount of time that must elapse before a court will enter a divorce judgment is 20 days after a divorce petition is filed. This short time period will typically only apply if parties are in full agreement over issues of property division and alimony and share no minor children. If the parties have children together or disagree over some aspect of the separation, the length of time to dissolution can be substantially longer.

Hire an Attorney

Getting divorced is not an easy thing that can become even more difficult as emotions run high and disagreements follow. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help reduce those disagreements and ensure you receive a fair amount of the marital possessions. The Law Offices of Alan J. Braverman, P.A., in Fort Lauderdale and Boynton Beach, represent clients in all aspects of divorce proceedings, and they are available to assist you. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation.

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