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Most people think they know a thing or two about divorce law, but you may be surprised to learn about some of the important details of Florida divorce which can affect you for years to come.
Grounds for Florida Divorce
Florida does not have “fault” divorce. The only two grounds for divorce, in Florida are:
The marriage is irretrievably broken
One spouse is mentally incapacitated, and has been for at least three years
Mandatory Waiting Period and Counseling
If there are children, or if one spouse denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court can order up to three months of counseling with a marriage counselor, psychiatrist, minister, priest, or rabbi, or another party that the courts deems appropriate and both spouses agree to.
In lieu of counseling, the court may allow the couple to try to work things out on their own.
Florida Property Division
Florida is an equitable distribution state. Marital property is not divided 50/50, but in a manner that the court deems fair.
Marital property includes all property, assets, and debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage, except those acquired by inheritance or as a gift.
Non-marital property is property acquired before the marriage or by gift or inheritance. Comingling of property during the marriage converts non-marital property into marital property.
It is common for the court to award the marital home to the spouse who will be the custodial parent of the children, so that the children can continue to live in their home.
Alimony is only awarded in Florida divorce when one spouse needs it and the other spouse has the ability to pay. There are several types of alimony in Florida:
Temporary – paid from the time of separation until the divorce becomes final
Rehabilitative – helps the receiving spouse become employable or increase their earning power by acquiring education and skills
Bridge-the-gap – temporary alimony paid after the divorce becomes final, while the receiving spouse gets on their feet and for no more than two years
Permanent alimony – paid until the receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates or either spouse dies
Florida uses a number of factors to determine whether alimony should be granted, including the length of the marriage. Permanent alimony is typically only granted in marriages of long duration.
Florida prefers shared parental responsibilities, unless it will be harmful to the child. Under this arrangement, parents must consult with each other on major decisions such as where the child will go to school and medical decisions.
If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on your own regarding decision making and time-sharing, you can submit that to the court and it will usually be granted. If you cannot come to an agreement the court will decide for you based on what it believes is in the child’s best interest.
Florida has specific guidelines for calculating child support. The child support amount is based on both spouse’s combined net income, the amount of time the child spends with each spouse, and the percentage of the combined income that the paying spouse earns.