Florida Divorce Laws Explained

Divorce law is a common yet complex area of practice that demands significant attention to detail and extensive legal knowledge. Over the last few decades, the divorce rate has steadily increased and now hovers around 50% nationwide. According to the United States Census Bureau, Florida has one of the highest divorce rates in the country with nearly 80,000 divorces in 2009 alone.  With divorce becoming more and more acceptable and necessary, it is important that you understand how Florida’s divorce laws may impact you and your family.

The divorce process is an intensely emotional and personal journey that can take weeks, months or in some cases even years to conclude. Divorce laws vary from state to state and understanding Florida’s specific requirements is vital to ensuring that you achieve a favorable outcome. Florida’s divorce laws are rather lenient in comparison to other states. The residency requirement for filing a petition for dissolution of marriage in Florida merely dictates that one party must reside in the state for at least six months prior to filing. After filing your petition, your spouse, i.e. the respondent, has 20 days in which to file an answer. Filing and residency requirements are designed to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to provide adequate notice and an opportunity to respond to the non-filing party.

The legal grounds for a divorce in Florida also make the divorce process seem less complicated than in other states. Many states grant divorces based upon a showing of fault on the part of at least one party before a divorce petition is granted. Fault-based grounds for divorce range from adultery, habitual drunkenness, desertion and cruel and inhumane treatment.  In Florida, there are only two grounds for divorce: an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage or mental incapacity of one spouse for at least three years immediately preceding the filing for dissolution.

If you and your spouse are amicably able to reach an agreement about issues such as property division, spousal support and child custody and support, your divorce proceeds through the court system as an uncontested divorce. If the court approves your agreement, your divorce becomes final in a matter of weeks saving you both time and money. However, contested divorces involve significant disagreements and require lengthy court hearings. In some cases, mediation facilitated by a neutral third party helps parties to reach a mutually beneficial resolution and settlement.

Florida has a significant military presence with several large bases located throughout the state. Military divorces present unique challenges in regards to service of process and filing deadlines if the service member is stationed overseas.

Whether you need assistance with a relatively simple, uncontested divorce or are seeking help with a high asset or military divorce, Tampa divorce attorney Mark G. Rodriguez of the Law Office of Mark G. Rodriguez, P.A. is here to serve you. With more than 30 years of divorce law experience in the Tampa area, we work diligently to provide you with the highest level of care and confidently guide you through any and all legal challenges.