When most couples get married, they assume they’ll be together forever. Unfortunately, there’s no way to be 100% certain about this. In truth of the matter is, some couples try anything to save their marriage and it still ends in divorce. It’s simply a fact of life.
Each state has its own divorce laws couples must follow when separating. These laws dictate everything from the divorce process to the way marital assets are distributed. If you live in Florida and are considering divorce, you’ll need to educate yourself on some fundamental state laws and procedures. To help you out, we’re going over some key elements you need to understand.
Filing for a Divorce in Florida
Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means you only have to show that your marriage is irretrievably broken to get a divorce. The phrase “irretrievably broken” means your relationship is over and there’s nothing you and your spouse can do to repair it. The only other ground for divorce in Florida is if one spouse is mentally incapacitated for three years.
To begin the process of dissolution in Florida, either you or your spouse must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This petition is filed with the Family Law Department of your local court. Before doing this, however, you need to be sure you’re filling out the right petition. There are three other forms in addition to the standard petition. These include:
• A petition with minor children
• A petition with property no minor children
• A petition with no minor children or property
Once you’ve filed a petition, the court serves your spouse with papers and they’re given time to respond. Keep in mind this process can get pretty tricky. Consider hiring an experienced divorce attorney to ensure your rights are protected and that you’re following the correct steps.
Obtaining a Simplified Dissolution
Aside from a regular dissolution of marriage, Florida citizens can also opt for what’s called a simplified dissolution of marriage. This is a much more efficient, quick procedure. However, you must meet certain criteria to qualify for this process. These conditions are fairly exhaustive, so you’ll need to go through all of them before moving forward. The conditions include:
• You have no children with your spouse and aren’t expecting any.
• You and your spouse agree on the division of marital property.
• Alimony isn’t being sought in your divorce.
• You and your spouse both agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
• Neither party is seeking additional financial information beyond what’s included in the court-approved affidavits.
• You and your spouse give up your right to trial and appeal.
• You and your spouse are willing to sign the petition at the court clerk’s office.
• You and your spouse will attend a final hearing.
After you file a simplified dissolution of marriage, you’ll be given a date for the hearing. If the judge finds that all your documents are correct, they’ll grant a judgment dissolving your marriage.
The Distribution of Property
The division of marital assets can be a messy issue in many divorces. Fortunately, Florida operates under the premise of equitable distribution. This means all marital assets are distributed fairly between divorcing spouses.
When determining the distribution of marital assets, Florida courts consider many factors. These may include things like the financial contributions of each spouse, business interests, and other financial circumstances. If child custody is an issue, the judge may factor this in when considering the distribution of the marital house. Their decision will be based on what’s best for the child.
Child Custody in Florida
Any time children are involved in a divorce, the process is much more difficult. There’s always the chance emotions will get in the way. The good news is that Florida courts make custody decisions with the best interests of the child in mind. Judges also make it a point to promote the involvement of both parents in the child’s life unless this presents a problem. For example, if one parent has prior drug or domestic violence charges, a judge will most likely grant custody to the other parent. When determining child custody terms, the courts will consider the following factors:
• The ability of each parent to facilitate a healthy relationship with the child and adhere to the custody schedule.
• The geographic proximity of the parents to each other and the child’s school.
• The preference of the child if they’re old enough to express such preference.
• The capacity of each parent to care for the daily needs of the child.
• The ability of each parent to remain involved in school and extracurricular activities.
Many other factors could potentially affect the court’s decision with regard to custody. For parents, the primary concern should be the current and future well-being of the child.
Moving on After a Divorce in Florida
Going through a divorce can leave you feeling angry, stressed out, and depressed about the state of your life. However, everybody has the ability to move on. The best way to do this is to get through the process as quickly and logically as possible. If you live in Florida, make sure you understand state divorce laws and work with a qualified family law attorney in your area. If you have any question please contact our Florida divorce attorneys, Lewert Law, LLC at (561) 544-6861.