In Florida, divorce is formally known as “dissolution of marriage.” Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning the court does not need to find either party at fault in order to dissolve a marriage. It is sufficient for the couple to simply plead that the marriage is irretrievably broken, without the need for one spouse to accuse the other of some form of wrongdoing.
Either spouse may file for the dissolution of marriage. To do so, you must prove ALL of the following:
- A marriage exists
- At least one spouse has been a Florida resident for at least six months before the filing
- The marriage is irretrievably broken
Outcomes of divorce
Outcomes in a divorce typically include:
- The division of assets and debts
- Awards of spousal support
- Awards of child support
- Decisions on parental responsibility and time-sharing schedules
In each case of divorce, these outcomes are unique and different, depending on the circumstances.
Equitable distribution state
Once you have filed for divorce, division of your property and assets must be determined. Florida is known as an equitable distribution state. This means that, although the court begins with the presumption that marital assets and debts are to be divided equally, the court has the power to decide how property and debts obtained during a marriage should be fairly divided upon divorce.
While fault is not an issue in granting the dissolution, the division of property and possessions, and responsibility for support and custody of any children, may become contested matters.
After equitable distribution, the court may consider whether to award alimony to either spouse. Alimony is financial support a person must provide to their spouse following a divorce. To receive an award of alimony, the requesting spouse must demonstrate a need for alimony and the other party’s ability to pay. The court then considers many factors to determine the proper type and amount of alimony. For more information, review The Florida Bar’s consumer pamphlet, Divorce in Florida.
Collaborative dissolution process
Couples who wish to dissolve their marriage amicably may want to consider the collaborative dissolution process. This is a voluntary dispute resolution process that can begin at any time, before or after a party files a petition for dissolution of marriage with a court.
In the collaborative practice of law, both parties and their attorneys sign an agreement that describes the nature and scope of the matter. They then voluntarily disclose all relevant and material information, using good-faith efforts to negotiate. The parties may engage joint neutral mental health and financial professionals to assist with their negotiations.
The goal of this process is for the parties to reach and sign a settlement agreement that addresses all issues resulting from a divorce. Should the collaborative process be unsuccessful in whole or in part, the divorcing spouses must begin a contested dissolution proceeding through the court.
Restoring a former name
Once a divorce has been made final, Florida law permits the court to restore a spouse’s former name in a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. The spouse who wants their name restored must request it within the original petition or in a counter-petition for dissolution of marriage. The court can restore the spouse only to the name they had immediately before the marriage.