10 Things You Need To Know About Florida Divorce Law- Essential Guide

By: Christopher Mulligan

10 Things You Need To Know About Florida Divorce Law- Essential Guide

Considering a divorce in Florida? Let’s plunge into the essentials of Florida’s divorce laws that could shape your journey.

Florida isn’t just sunny beaches and vibrant cities—it also has unique divorce regulations that need your attention.

This guide strips down the legalese to bring you straightforward, need-to-know facts that will arm you with the knowledge to navigate your divorce confidently.

From mandatory procedures to specific local requirements, understanding these elements is your first step toward making empowered decisions.

Prepare to turn the complex into the manageable as we explore what Florida’s divorce landscape means for you.

Key Takeaways

  • It’s crucial to know that one spouse must be a Florida resident for at least six months before filing for divorce, which is a cornerstone of Florida’s divorce prerequisites.
  • When it comes to dividing assets, Florida follows the principle of equitable distribution, not necessarily meaning an equal split but a fair one, considering various aspects of the marriage.
  • Florida mandates a parenting course to help divorcing parents understand the impact of their separation on their children, aiming to minimize it.

1) Residency Requirement

In Florida, at least one spouse must be a legal resident for a minimum of six months before filing for divorce. This requirement is specified under Florida Statutes § 61.021.

To prove residency, you can present documents like a valid ID card, voter registration, or a driver’s license.

Alternatively, an affidavit or testimony from a third party may suffice. Failing to meet this residency requirement means the court lacks jurisdiction over the divorce case.

This makes verifying residency before filing essential. These guidelines ensure that the legal process adheres to state laws and helps streamline the proceedings.

2) No-Fault Divorce

In Florida, a no-fault divorce system is in place. This means that spouses do not need to prove any misconduct such as adultery, abuse, or abandonment to file for divorce. They only need to assert that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Instead, they only need to state that their marriage is “irretrievably broken.” The concept of no-fault divorce allows for a more straightforward divorce process.

It reduces the need for extensive and often contentious proof of fault, streamlining court procedures.

Couples just have to indicate that they can no longer remain married. This system can help avoid unnecessary conflict and may result in a faster resolution of divorce cases.

Florida is among several states that adopt this no-fault approach, making it more accessible for individuals seeking dissolution.

3) Equitable Distribution

Equitable distribution in Florida divorce law refers to the fair division of marital assets and liabilities. The court aims to divide these assets in a manner that is just, though it does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split.

Judges consider numerous factors when making decisions on equitable distribution. These factors include the duration of the marriage, the financial circumstances of each spouse, and each spouse’s contributions to the marriage.

Contributions are not limited to financial ones; they can also include homemaking and child-rearing efforts.

Non-marital assets, which are assets acquired before marriage or through inheritance or gift, are generally excluded from equitable distribution.

However, any increase in the value of these assets during the marriage may be subject to distribution. Hiring an experienced attorney can help navigate these complexities effectively.

4) Parenting Plans

In Florida, parenting plans are essential for addressing child custody and visitation arrangements.

A parenting plan is created to meet the child’s specific needs and requires court approval.

This plan dictates custody agreements and schedules when each parent will have physical custody of the child. Parents must cooperate to establish a comprehensive plan.

This includes decision-making responsibilities and methods for resolving disputes.

Elements of a Florida parenting plan include a detailed custody schedule, outlining when the child will spend time with each parent.

It also specifies how parents will make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. The law places significant emphasis on the child’s best interests.

Therefore, parenting plans must be thorough and well-considered to ensure stability and consistency. Legal assistance is recommended when drafting these plans.

5) Child Support Guidelines

In Florida, both parents are financially responsible for the care and upkeep of their child. The child support amount is determined based on the Child Support Guidelines outlined in Florida statutes.

The guidelines calculate support payments by considering the income of both parents. They also account for the percentage of time each parent spends with the child.

If the combined monthly net income of the parents exceeds $10,000, additional computations are necessary. These ensure that support obligations are fair and adequate. Parents cannot waive child support payments.

This financial responsibility is enforced regardless of whether parents are married, divorced, or single, according to Florida law.

The court strictly follows these guidelines to ensure that child support is appropriately managed and distributed. Any deviations from these guidelines require a clear, documented reason.

By adhering to these guidelines, Florida ensures that the child’s needs are met, promoting their well-being and stability.

6) Alimony Types

There are several types of alimony in Florida, each designed to address specific needs and circumstances. These include bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent alimony.

Bridge-the-gap alimony is a short-term support. It assists one party in transitioning from married life to a single life. This type is not modifiable.

Rehabilitative alimony is intended to support an ex-spouse. It helps them acquire education, training, or work experience necessary for self-sufficiency.

Durational alimony is provided for a set period. It usually applies in short to moderate-length marriages. The duration cannot exceed the length of the marriage.

Permanent alimony is more common in long-term marriages. It is designated for a spouse who cannot achieve self-sufficiency. This may be due to age, disability, or other factors.

Permanent alimony can be modified upon significant life changes. Alimony types consider a range of factors, including the length of the marriage, financial status, and standard of living.

7) Simplified Dissolution

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in Florida offers a streamlined option for couples without children and significant disputes. This process is designed to be quicker and more straightforward than traditional divorces.

Both spouses must agree to the dissolution and be willing to attend a final hearing. They should also agree on the division of property and waive the right to alimony.

Filing for a simplified dissolution involves submitting a petition to the court. The couple will need to appear jointly before a judge to finalize the divorce.

This process typically involves fewer court appearances and can be completed in a shorter time frame.

Simplified Dissolution is ideal for couples seeking an efficient and less contentious way to end their marriage.

It offers a less complicated path to legally separate, provided both parties meet the necessary criteria and agree on key issues.

8) Waiting Period

In Florida, obtaining a divorce involves a mandatory waiting period. From the date of filing, there is a 20-day waiting period before a judge can sign the final divorce decree.

This waiting period ensures that both parties have a chance to reconcile or resolve any immediate concerns. The waiting period may be longer if the divorce is complex, such as those involving significant assets or child custody disputes.

Complex cases might also extend the overall timeline of the divorce proceedings.

An uncontested divorce typically takes four to six weeks to finalize, assuming all paperwork is correctly filed and there are no delays.

Consulting with a qualified attorney can help navigate any potential delays or issues during this mandatory period.

9) Mandatory Parenting Course

In Florida, divorcing parents are required to attend a mandatory parenting course.

This is stipulated by Florida Statute 61.21, which mandates that parents complete the course before the finalization of the divorce.

The purpose of this course is to educate parents on the impact of divorce on children.

It also provides strategies for effective co-parenting and helps parents understand their responsibilities.

Different counties may have additional requirements for this course. Some may require the course to be completed in person, while others may permit online completion.

Always check with the local Clerk of Court to verify specific requirements.

The course typically takes about four hours to complete and covers topics such as conflict resolution, legal processes, and children’s developmental stages.

It aims to reduce the emotional and psychological impact of divorce on children.

Attending the course is essential as the court will not finalize a divorce without proof of completion.

Make sure to enroll in a recognized program to avoid any delays in the divorce proceedings.

10) Domestic Violence Considerations

Domestic violence can profoundly impact divorce proceedings in Florida. Safety is the primary concern, and individuals should take immediate steps to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Florida law allows victims to seek temporary and final injunctions for protection against domestic violence.

These injunctions can provide necessary legal barriers to keep the abusive spouse away and ensure safety.

When filing for divorce, it’s essential to be aware that abusive behavior might increase. Seeking legal counsel and possibly working with law enforcement can be crucial steps in navigating this challenging situation.

The courts may consider domestic violence when making decisions on child custody and visitation rights.

Generally, the presence of domestic violence can influence the court’s determination of what serves the best interest of the child.

For those in the military or married to a service member, specific rules may apply.

It’s beneficial to consult with an attorney experienced in handling military divorces under such circumstances.


Wrapping up, we’ve learned some key things about getting a divorce in Florida. Remember, if you or your spouse haven’t lived in Florida for at least six months, you can’t file for divorce here.

Also, Florida lets couples divorce without blaming anyone, simply by agreeing the marriage can’t be fixed.

And when it comes to splitting stuff or deciding who takes care of the kids, Florida aims to be fair, not necessarily equal.

Now, think about this: What steps can you take today to prepare for any future challenges that might come up in a divorce?

 If you find this guide helpful, why not dive deeper into our blog, share your thoughts, or even your story?

Protect Your Family’s Future Before It’s Too Late

Are you overwhelmed by the fear of losing what matters most? At Mulligan & Associates, we understand the heartache and uncertainty that come with family legal issues.

Whether you’re dealing with a difficult divorce, complex child custody arrangements, or challenging child support cases, our seasoned attorneys are ready to guide you every step of the way.

We also specialize in adoption and restraining orders, ensuring you have a reliable legal partner in all aspects of your life.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Every moment counts when your family’s future is at stake.

Contact Mulligan & Associates today to schedule your consultation and take the first step toward peace of mind.[H1] 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the grounds for filing for divorce in Florida?

In Florida, a divorce is referred to as a “dissolution of marriage.” The primary requirement is proving that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” or that one party is mentally incapacitated. A fault is not considered in these proceedings.

How is property divided in a Florida divorce case?

In Florida, marital property and debts are divided based on the principle of equitable distribution. This means the court strives for a fair division, though it might not be a 50/50 split.

Several factors influence this decision, including the span of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, and their contributions, both financial and non-financial, to the marriage.

What determines child custody arrangements in a Florida divorce?

Child custody decisions are made based on the best interest of the child. This includes considerations such as the child’s relationship with each parent, the mental and physical health of all parties involved, and each parent’s ability to provide a stable environment.

How does Florida law address alimony in divorce proceedings?

Florida law considers several factors when determining alimony, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, and each spouse’s financial resources and earning capacities. Types of alimony can include temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, or permanent.

Are there residency requirements for filing for divorce in Florida?

To file for divorce in Florida, at least one party must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing. This requirement ensures that Florida has jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings.

What is the process for an uncontested divorce in Florida?

An uncontested divorce in Florida occurs when both parties agree on all terms, including property division, alimony, and child custody. This process is typically faster and less expensive. If represented by an attorney, parties may not need to attend court, making the process more streamlined.