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Divorce FAQ Helping You Navigate Family Challenges & Changes

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce

What are the Grounds for Divorce in Florida?

There are two grounds for divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” in the state of Florida:

  • The marriage is irretrievably broken
  • One of the parties is mentally incapacitated

It is important to note that Florida is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that the party who files for divorce does not have to prove the fault of the other party. The only requirement is proving that at least one of the grounds listed above applies.

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

A divorce can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year depending on the particulars of the case. Every case brings with it unique circumstances, and there are many factors that prolong the process. If the divorce is uncontested and terms can be settled efficiently, it should not take longer than six months. The more contested a divorce, the longer it may take for parties to come to terms. Differences regarding the division of assets or the time-sharing plan can belabor the progress.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

It is highly recommended that you retain a lawyer during a divorce. Even when parties are motivated to end their marriage as amicably as possible, it is still an extremely difficult process. Our Clearwater family law lawyers understand the toll a divorce can take, and we want to be your advocate. Call 727.245.9009 today to see how we can partner with you through this process.

Are There Residency Requirements for Divorce in Florida?

Yes. To file for divorce in Florida, you must meet the residency requirement. One party must have lived in Florida for six months prior to the date of filing.

How is Annulment Different from Divorce?

An annulment is different from divorce in that annulments completely void the marriage. In the eyes of the law, it will be as if the marriage never happened. Divorce recognizes the validity of the marriage and seeks to establish equitable terms for its dissolution.

There are only two grounds for annulment in the state of Florida:

  • The parties are related by blood
  • Either spouse is already married

Can I Still File for Divorce If I Don’t Know Where My Spouse Is?

No. You will need to serve your spouse with a Summons and Verified Complaint for Divorce, and to do so, you will need to know where he or she can be found. Locating your spouse can be a frustrating situation, but having a knowledgeable Clearwater family law attorney on your side can ease some of those frustrations. Our firm can help you find a private investigator to serve your spouse with a Summons and Complaint. Contact us today!

What is Equitable Distribution?

Equitable distribution is the division of the parties’ assets and liabilities. While some states require an even split of both assets and debts, Florida calls for a fair distribution. Many factors will help determine what a fair distribution is, including the length of the marriage, the financial situation of the parties, and the contributions each party made to the marriage. Couples may determine the division of the property on their own or with the help of a mediator.

Any assets or debts accumulated during the marriage are included in equitable distribution unless the couple can supply a written agreement indicating otherwise. Assets or debts acquired prior to the marriage are considered separate property. Gifts or inheritances given to one spouse are considered separate property as well.

How Do the Courts Determine Alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is granted based on the unique factors of the case. The court will first determine if either party requires alimony and, if necessary, prescribe the form it will take.

  • These determinations, taken from Florida Statutes § 61.08, are made after considering the relevant factors, including:
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and the physical and emotional condition of each party
  • The financial resources of each party, including the results of equitable distribution
  • The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties, and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment
  • The contribution of each party to the marriage, including, but not limited to, services rendered in homemaking, child care, education, and career building of the other party
  • The responsibilities each party will have with regard to any minor children they have in common
  • The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony aware, including the designation or all or a portion of the payment as a nontaxable, nondeductible payment
  • All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party
  • Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the parties

Having weighed these considerations, the court will set the terms of alimony, including its duration and amount.

How Do the Courts Determine Custody?

Ultimately, the court’s decision regarding custody will be based on what it determines to be in the best interest of the child. Some parties can come to a simple agreement about the terms of custody and visitation, while others will not. Depending on the complexity of the case, a custody decision will be the result of various factors, some of which include the level of parental responsibility, the stability of the home environment, and the metal and physical health of the parents.

How Long Does a Parent Have to Pay Child Support in Florida?

The state of Florida requires parents to provide for their child until his or her 18th birthday, which would include any court-ordered child support.

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