Legal Grounds for a Divorce in Florida
There are only two grounds for divorce in the state of Florida:
- The marriage is broken and cannot be fixed.
- Mental incapacity of a spouse.
If a person seeks dissolution of marriage, claiming that it is irretrievably broken, and children are involved, or the other party disputes the person’s claim, a judge may take the following actions:
- Order that both spouses seek marriage counseling
- Continue the proceedings for up to three months to allow the couple to reconcile their differences
- Take any other action that is in the best interest of the couple or their children
Timeline for Dissolution of Marriage
The timeline for a dissolution of marriage can vary depending on each case and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. On average, a divorce timeline may look like this:
Time to Prepare a Case: 3 Weeks
A case can take three to four weeks to prepare. Much of the time is spent gathering documents, sharing information with the other spouse, and waiting for a response.
Service of Petition and Summons: 1 to 3 Weeks
Since the receiving spouse has to be present for the papers to be served, it can take a few days to locate the spouse and serve them the papers.
Answer Period: 20 Days
Once the spouse receives the papers, they have 20 days to file an answer. Keep in mind that the other spouse can hire an attorney and find ways to delay this process.
Mediation: 5 Months
Florida requires a mediation period in all divorce cases. This is a period to allow each of the spouses and their lawyers to work out a settlement. This period can take several months in contested cases.
Final Hearing: 4 to 6 Months
The final hearing can also take several months, depending on if the divorce is contested or uncontested. During the final hearing, a judge reviews the request and decides on the case.
Dividing Assets and Debts
Florida is an equitable distribution state. As such, the court has the power to divide both parties’ marital assets and debts.
During the proceeding, all property is designated as either marital (assets acquired during the marriage) or nonmarital (owned prior to the marriage or obtained through inheritance or gift). The court assigns a monetary value to both assets and debts and then decides on fair distribution. If applicable, the court will also determine whether alimony or other forms of support are appropriate.