As a “no-fault” divorce state, there are only a few requirements to file for divorce in Florida. One party must have resided in Florida for at least six months before filing the official Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage. The petition needs to be filed in the county where the couple last resided, as long as one person still lives in that county. You must also give a legal reason for the divorce when you file the petition. There are only two legal grounds for divorce as specified in Florida Statute 61.052: mental incapacitation and irretrievably broken. Below, we discuss what these legal grounds for divorce mean and how to prove them when filing your petition.
The first legal ground for divorce is when one spouse asserts that the other is mentally incapacitated and cannot continue to be married. One spouse cannot simply claim that the other is mentally incapacitated, however. For a marriage to be dissolved based on incapacitation, the spouse must have been legally deemed mentally incapacitated within the last three years. A court-approved committee must also prove that the spouse is legally incapacitated. In this case, the petition for dissolution of marriage would be served to the incapacitated spouse’s legal guardian or nearest blood relative. The guardian or relative would then act on the spouse’s behalf in the divorce proceedings.
“Irretrievably broken” is the most common reason for divorce in Florida. When a couple claims that the marriage is irretrievably broken when filing for divorce, they are saying that they no longer get along and cannot continue to be in the relationship anymore. You may need to assure a judge that you attempted to reconcile your differences but could not repair the relationship during divorce proceedings. An irretrievably broken marriage could be when both spouses consent to the divorce or when both parties believe they cannot do anything to fix it. In most cases, however, you will not have to explain an exact reason. As a no-fault divorce state, one spouse cannot file for divorce under the grounds of adultery, abandonment, or misconduct. Stating these reasons will not automatically result in an unequal division of property based on the circumstances.
If one spouse contests the reason for the divorce, a judge may extend the time frame for the proceedings to continue—up to three months. In this time frame, you may be ordered to attend marital counseling or participate in other measures to help reconcile your differences. A judge may also extend the filing period if there are minor children involved or if a judge determines that the marriage can be saved under certain circumstances.
Alison M. Lopes is an experienced family law attorney that has dealt with a wide range of divorce cases throughout Central Florida. Our office will guide you through the often high-emotion roller coaster of divorce proceedings. Contact our office for a consultation to discuss your case or call us at 407-442-2724.