What Are Grounds For Divorce in Florida
Florida is the Sunshine State, though not all marriages in the state are filled with warmth. If you feel that the sun is beginning to set on your marriage you may decide it’s time to think about filing for a divorce.
What are the Grounds for Divorce in Florida?
When it comes to divorce, Florida is a strictly no-fault state. This means that you don’t have to give a specific reason why you are ending your marriage. When you or your spouse file for a Final Dissolution of Marriage, all that needs to be said is that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that neither party in the marriage believes there is any chance for reconciliation. Essentially, you are claiming that your marriage bond is so damaged that you have no intention of living together as spouses again, and this isn’t likely to change in the future.
Some states still allow a spouse to declare “grounds” for their divorce, such as abandonment, adultery, bigamy, or others, but this isn’t the only way to end a marriage. For example, in Georgia and Alabama, you have the choice of asking for a divorce based on the grounds of infidelity, or you can choose no-fault grounds. In Florida, there is no choice. All you need to say is, “I no longer want to be married to this person,” and this is generally good enough.
When Mental Illness is a Factor in a Florida Divorce
Stating that your marriage is beyond repair is just one of two reasons that you can cite in asking for a Florida divorce. The other choice is for a person to claim that their spouse has become mentally incapacitated, and this is a reason for wanting a divorce. However, if you choose this route you must know that there are strict rules for using this as grounds for divorce in Florida. The spouse making the claim must show:
- the spouse who is mentally incapacitated was deemed so by the courts, and the hearing was at least three years prior to the petition for divorce, AND
- the spouse who is seeking a divorce also provided notice of the divorce filing to the other spouse’s guardian or nearest blood relative.
If the spouse who is mentally incapacitated doesn’t have a guardian, one can be appointed by the courts so that their best interests are protected. It’s also possible that the court may order spousal support be paid to a mentally ill ex-spouse, so having skilled representation on your side is a must.
The Basics of Filing for Divorce in Florida
Even if you meet the simple requirement in Florida of being able to state that you “no longer want to be married,” there is more involved in a Florida divorce than just filling out a single form. First, you’ll need to make sure that you meet the residency requirement. Either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months before you can file for divorce. This will also dictate the county court in which you will file your Petition.
Your specific circumstances will determine what documents you need to file. For example, an uncontested divorce in which there are no minor children, no disagreements about property division, and no spousal support claims requires that you and your spouse file the paperwork together as “petitioners.” If there are any contested issues or if there are minor children involved, the Regular Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed by one or another spouse.
Is It Possible to Work Something Out?
Sometimes both spouses don’t want a divorce, and the courts may be reluctant to grant a request if they can convince the other party to try to work things out. This doesn’t happen often, but the courts prefer that both parties come to an agreement about such things as custody, division of assets, and spousal support before the judge will issue a final judgment. It is even possible that the courts will pause your divorce proceedings and order one or both spouses to seek counseling before a final decision. Because your divorce may not proceed according to your timeline or wishes, it can be valuable to seek out the services of an experienced Florida family law attorney.
Speak with an Experienced Florida Divorce Attorney
Nearly all divorces are charged with emotion, and it’s helpful to have local legal knowledge that will protect your interests as you make plans to rebuild your life. Crystal Collins Spencer, Attorney at Law, has been helping family law clients successfully for more than 30 years. Contact our office now at (850) 912-8080 or online to schedule a free confidential consultation.