What Are The Grounds For Divorce In Florida?
When a person initiates divorce proceedings, he or she must indicate his or her reason for wanting to end his or her marriage. Many years ago, a person could raise different grounds for divorce in Florida, including cruelty, adultery, desertion, and violence. All that changed, and today Florida is one of the many “no-fault” divorce states. In a no-fault divorce state, the party filing for divorce is not allowed to blame the other party for his or her marriage ending in his or her petition for divorce. He or she is not allowed to indicate a factor such as adultery or cruelty as his or her reason for wanting to end his or her marriage. Instead of giving such reasons when petitioning for divorce, a person must choose a legal ground for divorce recognized by the state.
What Are the Legal Grounds for Divorce in Florida?
According to Florida Statute 61.052, there are two grounds for divorce in Florida;
- Marriage is irretrievably broken
- One spouse is mentally incapacitated
However, this is not to say that factors such as adultery, violence, and cruelty cannot have an effect on divorce. Some issues that arise during divorce can require the court to consider the causes of divorce. If, for example, one spouse claims that the other spouse spent marital assets on a lover during the marriage, the court might have to consider the pre-marital affair when determining how to divide marital property.
“Marriage Is Irretrievably Broken”
If a marriage is irretrievably broken, it generally means it is so damaged that neither spouse wants to continue with it, and you don’t believe that feeling will change anytime in the future. It means you tried to work out the issues between you and your spouse, but you couldn’t.
Proving the ground of “marriage is irretrievably broken” is usually easy. Most of the time, proving that a marriage is irretrievably broken entails a party simply stating his or her marriage is irretrievably broken. Because of this, people typically provide a basic reason for the differences in the marriage.
“One Spouse Is Mentally Incapacitated”
Alternatively, a spouse can allege the other spouse is mentally incompetent or incapacitated. The rules for this allegation are quite strict. If a spouse chooses to use this ground when asking for a divorce, he or she must prove that the mentally ill spouse was classified as mentally incapacitated for a period of at least three years before the filing of the divorce petition. There are numerous other factors and statutory procedural requirements which must be strictly followed when divorcing under this category. It is imperative to have the assistance of an experienced attorney when pursuing this strategy. Please also keep in mind that this will result in the delay of the entry of a final judgment of dissolution of marriage.
In addition to a petition for dissolution of marriage alleging one of these two grounds, Florida law requires a petition for dissolution of marriage to allege that one of the spouses has lived in the state of Florida for at least six months before the filing of that petition.
Proving residency for divorce in Florida is very easy as producing a valid Florida driver’s license which was issued at least six months prior to the filing date is prima facie evidence of residency. That is all that is needed. If a driver’s license is not available, then an affidavit from a corroborating witness may be used by a witness who is already an established Florida resident. Again, both are easy to accomplish. The complication arises when a member of the military has to establish residency when that servicemember has been away from the state for a period of time due to the needs of the military. The good news is the state complies with the mandates of the SCRA and allows the servicemember to maintain residency so long as he/she evidences an intent to do so. Again, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can assist through this process.