The Family Law Guidance You Need

How To Obtain A Divorce In Florida

Are you considering obtaining a divorce but don’t know where to start? In this article, we
will provide an overview of what to expect when seeking a dissolution of your marriage in
Florida. There are a few things you should know before beginning the process of divorce, and
we’re here to help.

Do I qualify to obtain a divorce in Florida?

It’s first important to establish whether or not you qualify to file for a divorce in Florida.
In order to be able to file for divorce, one of the parties to the marriage must have lived in
Florida for at least 6 months. See Fla. Title VI Ch. 61.021. Additionally, you must file in the
county where you reside. Please note that your individual court might have additional
requirements or forms, so always check your local court’s website. If you’re unsure which court
serves your county, you can find a list of court’s with their corresponding counties here.

How can I start the process of my divorce?

A divorce is initiated by filing a petition for divorce as well as a summons with your local
court’s clerk. See Fla. Title VI Ch. 61.043. Some counties provide pre-printed forms that the
petitioner can fill in with his or her specific information. These forms usually say “In re the
marriage of…” The summons must be delivered to your spouse, who can waive formal service
by filing an “Answer and Waiver of Service”. If your spouse does not waive service, you can
check with your local court to see if the Sheriff’s department will serve your spouse with the

When filling out the petition, note that specific misconduct of one or more spouses is not
necessary to be granted a divorce in Florida. Instead, a divorce can be granted upon a pleading
that a marriage is “irretrievably broken”. See Fla. Title VI Ch. 61.052. Also keep in mind that
this petition will form the backbone of your divorce claim. As such, it is important to address
EVERY topic you want the judge to address, including division of assets and debts, child
custody and child support, and any alimony requests.

If the responding party agrees to the terms you’ve laid out in your petition, that the
marriage is “irretrievably broken”, and there are no minor children involved, then the judge has
discretion to grant the divorce upon these pleadings. Fla. Title VI Ch. 61.052.

One last note about the initial filings: When you file the initial petition and summons, the
clerk will likely hand you an anonymous questionnaire. You must complete and file this
questionnaire in order to obtain a dissolution of your marriage.

What if my spouse doesn’t agree to the divorce or the asset division I proposed?
The divorce process is a little less streamlined if your spouse doesn’t agree to dissolving
the marriage via the terms outlined in your petition. In this scenario, the judge has all of the
discretion to decide the terms of your divorce. Fortunately, the baseline for asset division begins
with an assumption that all non-marital property should return to its owner and all marital
property should be divided equally. Fla. Title VI Ch. 61.075.

Any justification for a non-equal distribution will come from factors listed in Fla. Title VI Ch. 61.075, including considerations such as each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, each party’s financial situation, and the
length of the marriage. For a list of which assets qualify as marital or nonmarital property, see
part (6)(a-b) of Fla. Title VI Ch. 61.075.

What if I want alimony?

The court has discretion to grant alimony to either party in a divorce. See Fla. Title VI
Ch. 61.08. This is the biggest area in which the court will entertain any arguments about
infidelity. However, the court will ultimately make a determination of whether one party has an
actual need for alimony and whether the other party has the actual ability to pay it. Once the
court makes this determination, it will consider several factors to determine the amount of
alimony that is appropriate. These factors can be found in Section (2)(a-j) of Fla. Title VI Ch.

What if we have minor children?

Issues surrounding child custody and child support will likely be the most contentious
aspect of your divorce. In order for a court to have jurisdiction to make a custody determination,
Florida must be the home state of the child, with some limited exceptions. This means that if you
are living in Florida but your child lives in another state with your spouse, then a Florida court
does not have jurisdiction to make a child custody determination. See Fla. Title VI Ch. 61.514.

Child custody is determined through an approved parenting plan. Parties can agree on a
parenting plan, or the court can determine a parenting plan based on factors concerning the
child’s best interest, which are laid out in Fla. Title VI Ch. 61.13. If the court is determining
shared parenting time, it begins with an assumption that each parent should share equal time with
the child, unless this arrangement would be detrimental to the child because of issues such as
domestic violence or child abuse.

Are there other resources available?

The Florida Family court resources website is a great place to start when initiating the
process of marriage dissolution. Here you’ll find basic instructions about what to expect and
various forms that you may need to file for your divorce. You’ll also find the Family court
guiding principles, which will give you an idea about what goes into the judge’s decisions
throughout the divorce process.


Now that you know the basic principles for getting a divorce in Florida, you understand
the importance retaining experienced legal counsel. Contact us today at 863-216-7886 to
schedule your consultation.