No-Fault Divorce in Florida
- Florida is a no-fault divorce state
- Why you don’t have to prove fault
- Requirements for no-fault divorce in Florida
- How long it takes
- Benefits of no-fault divorce
In Florida, a no-fault divorce law simplifies the divorce process to some extent. You don't have to prove wrongdoing on either person’s part in order to get the divorce. Instead, you can simply state that your marriage is irretrievably broken.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state
No-fault divorce is a type of divorce in which there are no-fault grounds. The most common reason given and accepted by various no-fault divorce states, including Florida, is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Another common no-fault phrase you may have heard is “irreconcilable differences.”
Why you don’t have to prove fault in Florida
Since neither party is officially blamed for the end of the relationship, the divorce process is usually less adversarial. There is less conflict overall, which makes it easier on everyone involved – especially if the couple has minor children.
Even though fault is not required to obtain a divorce in Florida, the conduct of both people during the marriage can be relevant in the divorce proceedings. How? When deciding matters such as the division of assets, alimony, child custody, and visitation rights, a judge may consider whether one spouse’s behavior created an unfair situation for the other. As a way to make things right, for example, a judge may order a spouse who used marital money to fund an affair to pay that cash back to their former spouse.
Requirements for no-fault divorce in Florida
In Florida, the requirements for a no-fault divorce are relatively straightforward.
- At least one spouse must officially agree that the marriage is broken and cannot be repaired.
- At least one spouse must meet the residency requirement: They must have lived in Florida for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
Unlike some states, there is no separation requirement for divorce cases in Florida. In other words, you don't have to live separately from your spouse before you file for divorce.
If the divorcing couple shares minor children, there are additional considerations:
- Parents must complete a court-approved parenting course before the divorce can be finalized. The course is designed to help parents understand the impact of divorce on children and how to support them during this transition.
- The parents must develop a parenting plan that outlines how they will share and divide responsibilities for the upbringing of their kids. A parenting plan addresses issues such as education, healthcare, physical custody, and communication guidelines.
If the spouses cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, such as property division or child custody, the court will decide these matters.
Are exceptions ever made to Florida’s no-fault law?
Florida's no-fault divorce law is quite rigid, and there are generally no exceptions made. The idea behind no-fault divorce law is to simplify the process and reduce the potential for conflict.
Ronald Reagan introduced the concept of no-fault divorce to the U.S. in 1969, when he was governor of California.
How long does it take?
The period of time needed for a Florida no-fault divorce varies depending on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Here is a general timeline:
Filing the divorce petition
The first step in a Florida divorce is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the circuit court in the county where you live. The petition includes information about your marriage and what you are asking for (marital property, child and spousal support payments, custody arrangements) in the divorce settlement.
Serving the other spouse
After filing, the other spouse must be served with a copy of the divorce papers and given time to respond. They have 20 days to file a response.
In a contested divorce, there may be a discovery phase in which spouses provide information such as financial documents, witness depositions, and other evidence.
Before having a hearing or going to trial, couples usually go through mediation to try to resolve their disagreements about the marital settlement. A neutral third party (the mediator) helps them negotiate and come to an agreement.
If the couple can't reach a settlement agreement, the case will go to trial. The judge will hear evidence and make decisions on contested issues.
After the trial, the judge will issue a final judgment in the form of a divorce decree. The decree specifies the terms of the divorce and officially ends the marriage.
6 benefits of no-fault divorce
Here are six key advantages to the no-fault divorce process:
- Simplicity: In a no-fault divorce, you only need to state that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This simplifies the process significantly.
- Reduced conflict: Spouses don't have to engage in blame games or bring up painful incidents from the marriage. This helps make the process less emotionally draining.
- Privacy: Since you're not required to air your marital issues in court, a no-fault divorce can help protect your privacy.
- Quicker resolution: Without the task of proving fault, the divorce process can be quicker, especially if it's an uncontested divorce where both parties agree on all settlement terms.
- Lower costs: With a quicker resolution and fewer legal complexities, no-fault divorces can be less expensive than at-fault ones.
- Better for children: Reduced conflict and emotional stress can benefit children who are often caught in the middle during divorce proceedings.
The goal of Hello Divorce is to make divorce accessible and affordable for everyone. To that end, we have cost-effective plans that can help you get a fresh start. If you want to learn more, we welcome you to schedule a free 15-minute phone call with an account representative.