In this brief article I will take you through the basic requirements for a divorce in Florida. I am a family law attorney located in Venice, Florida and I help people with divorce and other family law issues in Sarasota County and the surrounding area.
Fault is Not an Issue
First of all, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that you don’t need a “reason” to get divorced (e.g., infidelity or the dissipation of marital assets). All that is required is for one spouse to want to leave the marriage.
Any spousal misconduct may still have an impact on a divorce and are factors considered in determining things like alimony, property distribution, and child custody. Feel free to read my article on grounds for divorce in Florida for more information on that subject.
Jurisdictional Requirements for a Florida Divorce
There are two kinds of jurisdictional issues that arise in divorce proceedings – those involving subject matter jurisdiction, and those involving personal jurisdiction. Basically, to get a divorce in Florida one of the spouses must have been a Florida resident for 6 months prior to filing for divorce.
In Florida, only one of the two spouses must be a resident of Florida for the state of Florida to assert subject matter jurisdiction and grant a divorce. The spouse whose residency is alleged in order to provide Florida with jurisdiction must have been a resident for at least six months prior to initiating the dissolution of marriage proceedings.
Florida does not need personal jurisdiction over the non-filing spouse in order to grant a divorce or adjudicate issues related to child custody. However, it’s important to note that Florida does need personal jurisdiction over the non-filing spouse in order to adjudicate issues of property, spousal support, and child support.
If the non-filing spouse resides in Florida, then the court has personal jurisdiction over that spouse. If the non-filing spouse does not reside in Florida, then the court must look to Florida’s long-arm statute to assert persona jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction will be asserted if the parties maintained a matrimonial domicile in Florida or if the other spouse resided in FL prior to the filing of the action.
Indigent Status and Access to Courts
The Supreme Court has held that states must provide access to divorce for those who can’t afford it. This is referred to as “indigent status.”
Every state now maintains an in forma pauperis procedure that entitles divorce petitioners to a waiver of court fees and costs (not including attorney’s fees) upon proof of indigency.
The application for indigent status in the 12th Circuit of Florida (which includes Sarasota County) can be found here.
Florida Divorce Requirements – Final Thoughts
I hope this article helped you gain an understanding of exactly what the requirements are to get a divorce in Florida. If you would like a broader overview of what it is like to get divorced in Florida, I encourage you to check out my article on that subject.
If I can be of any assistance at all in your divorce or family law matter please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I am more than happy to sit down and discuss your case. Please call (941-882-4367) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) today to set up a consultation.