Requirements for Divorce in Florida

Requirements for Divorce in Florida

Every state has certain legal requirements that must be met prior to a couple obtaining a divorce in that state. These specific requirements range from having to have a separation period prior to filing for divorce to the reasoning for filing for divorce. Florida is no different in that the state legislature established state specific statutes dealing with the requirements that must be met for a couple to divorce in this state.

The first important thing is that any person that seeks to divorce in Florida must first be a resident of the state. The residency requirement limits the number of cases that can be heard by Florida courts by not allowing people that do not reside within the state from filing for divorce here because of other reasons. Many people that seek divorces will often look to the laws in other states to decide where it is that they likely will get the best outcome. This requirement would not allow for such forum shopping without first living in Florida. The requirement is satisfied if the person resides in the state for the six months prior to filing for divorce.

If the residency requirement is met any then a judge in Florida may preside over the divorce; however, if there are child custody or support issues or division of property that is not within the state the court may not have jurisdiction over that. For the court to have jurisdiction over child custody and support the child must reside in the state for at least six months prior to the filing of the petition. The court will not be able make any decisions about property that is not within the state because there is no jurisdiction over that property.

Once residency is established, the spouse may now file for divorce. Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that there does not need to be any proof shown that the marriage is ending for a particular reason. Other states continue to maintain the option that people can file as a fault or no-fault divorce. However, even if people have an argument for a divorce based on the fault of their spouse many will simply pursue a no-fault divorce because it is rare that there is any benefit from a fault-based divorce. In no-fault divorce cases the spouse must only allege that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown” in the couple’s marriage. This generally means that the couple has a substantial incompatibility that cannot be resolved by other means. No-fault divorce is also available when one spouse has a mental incapacity.

After a petition is filed Florida has a small waiting period before the divorce may be finalized. This waiting period was placed into the statutes to ensure that our courts are not ending marriages that can be reconciled. The waiting period is 20 days. Within those 20 days the responding spouse may file an answer to the petition in which they would explain what they should receive in the divorce and present any counterclaims they may have against their ex-spouse. If the respondent does not submit the answer within 20 days, the petitioner may file a motion for default which basically alerts the court that their ex-spouse has refused to answer the divorce petition and they deserve for the divorce to be granted.

How We Can Help
If you, a friend or a family member find themselves in a situation such as this, please call the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A. at 305 670-3330 right away. Scott A. Ferris, Esq. is a licensed family law attorney who has been practicing law since 1987. He is available whenever you need him to pursue your rights. Please learn about our firm at