Divorce in Florida

State law seeks to inflict as little pain as possible

[Note: Also see “Getting a divorce in Jacksonville.”]

May 12, 2011

By Mike Hinshaw

‘Budget’ for your health

Once you’ve faced your grief and arranged for any necessary emotional or spiritual counseling, it will be necessary to become familiar with the divorce laws in your state.

No-fault ‘dissolution’ of marriage

In Florida, divorce is termed “dissolution of marriage” and is–in the majority of cases–a “no-fault” proposition. In other words, no blame is assigned to either party. Nobody has to prove adultery, or cruelty or abandonment, or anything like that. The only “fault-based” provision that remains on the books is mental incompetence, and certain fault-based actions can come into play in matters of spousal support (alimony), distribution of assets, and child custody. From the Florida Bar’s Web site:

Florida is one of the many states that has abolished fault as a ground for divorce. This law lessens the poten­tial harm to the husband, wife, and their children caused by the process of divorce. All that is required is that the marriage be “irretrievably broken.” Either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage. All that has to be proved is that a marriage exists, one party has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken. (There is another, little-used ground: the adjudication of one spouse as incompetent for at least three years preceding the petition for dissolution). Fault, however, may be considered under certain circumstances in the award of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, and determina­tion of parental responsibility.

Each divorce case is unique and therefore results vary. Even though fault is not an issue in granting the dissolution, the division of property and possessions, responsibility for support, and parental responsibility and time-sharing with children may become contested matters.

Contested versus uncontested: Simplified dissolution

If anything is contested, experts agree that you should be represented by a compatible, trained and experienced attorney. However, some cases are simple (legally speaking), and Florida statutes allow for what is called “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage”:

Certain Florida couples are eligible to dissolve their mar­riage by way of a simplified procedure. These dissolutions are “do-it-yourself” and were designed so the services of an attorney may not be necessary. Couples are responsible, however, for filing all necessary documents correctly, and both parties are required to appear before a judge together when the final dissolution is granted. If you desire the ser­vices of an attorney for this dissolution process, usually it can be completed relatively inexpensively.

Not everyone can use this procedure. A husband and wife can use the simplified dissolution of marriage only if: (a) they both agree to the use of this form of dissolution proceeding; (b) they have no minor (under 18) or dependent children; (c) they have no adopted children under the age of 18; (d) the wife is not pregnant; (e) at least one of the parties has lived in Florida for the past six months; (f) the parties have agreed on the division of all of their property (assets) and obligations (debts); (g) neither party is seeking alimony; and (h) both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and want to end their marriage because of serious permanent differences. Couples wanting to use the simplified process must meet all these conditions. If not, they must use the regular dis­solution of marriage process.

The regular dissolution procedures almost guarantee that at least one party to the divorce should retain an attorney.


And that’s where we can help. If you’re ready to begin the search for a compatible, well trained, experienced divorce attorney, you can start with our free case evaluation. If you need more information, please browse our site, using the tabs at the top of the page.

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