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What Does Divorce Look Like in Florida?

couple sitting on couch being handed papers on a clipboard and a pen

You don’t have to have a family law attorney to get a divorce in Florida, but an attorney is the best source of information if you have questions about the divorce process. If you and your spouse find that you cannot agree on most issues, a family law attorney can help you make these decisions. It is also a good idea to prepare for your hearing by having an attorney review the documents you will submit. Finally, an attorney can make sure that you are aware of all of your rights.

Legal Separation

A legal separation allows you to petition the court for orders for spousal support, the division of assets, child custody, and child support. After this process has been completed, you and your spouse will still be husband and wife. When you or your spouse wish to remarry, you or your spouse must begin divorce proceedings. You will not be able to obtain an order for a legal separation in the state of Florida.

The Opportunity for a Trial Separation

You cannot have a legal separation in Florida, but you can have a trial separation. In this case, you and your spouse will agree to live in separate residences before you involve the court in the process. If you and your spouse can agree, you may decide when to end the trial separation, child custody, and support of the children. You can even put this agreement in writing if this would cause you to be more comfortable with the arrangement.

Sometimes, the trial separation is enough to help couples work out their differences. If not, either spouse may petition the court for a divorce.

What Are the Requirements for Filing for Divorce in Florida?

You may file for divorce in Florida if you have been a resident in the state for at least six months. Either you or your spouse must reside in Florida to file for a divorce in the state.

Because Florida is a no-fault state, you do not have to prove that your spouse engaged in bad behavior during the marriage before you can file for divorce. All that either one of you has to state is that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Fault will not enter into the proceedings during the divorce hearing, but it may enter during the child custody or alimony hearing.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Florida

Your divorce will either be a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce.

The Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse agree on how you will divide marital property and marital debts, and you also agree on custody of your children and child support. You and your spouse must submit a financial affidavit within 45 days of being served with your divorce papers. This is required even if you and your spouse do not have any marital assets. The process ends after you and your spouse attend a final divorce hearing.

The Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is one in which you and your spouse are incapable of agreeing on your marital assets and debts and child custody and support. If you are going to be the one filing for divorce, you will be the “petitioner.” You will file for divorce with the clerk of court so that your spouse can be served with divorce papers. Your spouse will be the “respondent.”

This type of divorce requires that you attend a trial in front of a judge so that the judge can help you work out your issues. As the petitioner, it will be your responsibility to attend the final trial or hearing.

How Is This Different from Other States?

Some states allow married couples to file for a legal separation. This calls for them to decide the same matters during divorce proceedings, but the couple will remain married.

How Do We Approach Same-Sex Divorces?

Same-sex couples must also petition the court for a divorce in the jurisdiction in which they live. Just like for opposite-sex marriage, at least one member of the same-sex union must have been a resident of the state for at least six months. To file for divorce, a same-sex couple must state that the relationship between the two is irretrievably broken. Therefore, a same-sex marriage is dissolved exactly as marriages between couples of the opposite sex.

If you and your same-sex spouse can agree on all of the issues, you and your spouse may also have an uncontested divorce. If this is not possible for you, you and your spouse can also have a contested divorce. You will appear in front of a judge, and the judge will help you make the decisions concerning your marital property and your children.

What Happens to the Kids?

Whether or not a couple can agree on custody and support of their children, the judge will need to ensure that the arrangements you want to make are in the children’s best interests. If the parents cannot decide on child custody and support, the judge will make the decisions. You will need a child custody attorney if you and your spouse cannot agree on these issues. A child custody attorney can protect your rights as a parent and assist you in making the best decisions for your family.

If you have questions or need any help, contact us at Advocate Law Firm, P.A.. Call us today at (863) 644-5566 to schedule a free consultation with our divorce attorney team.