Important Things Florida Residents Need To Know About Divorce
Every state has different rules surrounding divorce. As a Florida resident, you need to understand the specific rules that apply to Florida divorces. This article discusses some important things Florida residents need to know about divorce.
No-fault Divorce State
Florida is a no-fault divorce state which means, when seeking a divorce in Florida, a spouse is not required to allege fault in the other spouse. In Florida, a filing party must only allege the marriage is “irretrievably broken” or that one spouse is incompetent. The latter reason is very complex and only applies in specific and rare instances and shall not be the focus of this article.
On the other hand, while fault is not the basis for a divorce, a spouse’s conduct can absolutely be relevant to the issues of alimony and timesharing with children. Therefore, while fault is not the basis for a divorce, it can be relevant to several important issues in a pending divorce.
Florida has certain residency requirements that must be met before a couple can divorce. To qualify to file a Florida divorce, one of the parties to the marriage must have lived in Florida for a period of at least six months prior to filing a divorce. It does not have to be the filing party. A valid driver’s license with a qualifying issue date is prima facie evidence of such residency. Military members have more flexible rules related to residency. They are often required to transfer or move outside the state of Florida, even though they are technically a Florida resident. If they meet certain special residence requirements, they are still considered residents, even if absent from the state, and can file for divorce in Florida.
You Have Options if You Cannot Locate Your Spouse
Suppose you want to get a Florida divorce but can’t locate your spouse. What happens in such a case? First, the court requires you to make a “good faith” attempt to locate your spouse. This is a detailed and specific process called a “diligent search.” To perform such a search a filing party is required to both speak with friends and family and to take several other measures to locate the other spouse. If, after your diligent search is complete and unsuccessful, and you cannot find your spouse, you can request to perform notice via publication. After that process is complete, you can file a motion for default and schedule a default hearing with the Court. If there are children or certain other issues involved, the judge may issue only a partial final judgment, reserving jurisdiction on certain issues. For example, a court cannot perform a best interest analysis on timesharing for children if a parent does not participate in a hearing. So, even if a default final judgment is entered, some issues may remain partially unresolved.
Florida will grant a divorce, if the residency requirements are met and even when one spouse cannot be located, but it is important to understand there is a special and complex process and a final judgment may not be complete.
Contact a Jacksonville Family Lawyer