What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Florida?
Florida is a no-fault state, and according to Florida divorce statutes, the two grounds for divorce include:
- A statement by you or your spouse that your marriage is irretrievably broken.
- Evidence that your spouse has been mentally ill for three years. For instance, the evidence may be from the court hearing on the determination of mental incapacity.
The divorce reasons list is rather short in Florida since it is a no-fault state meaning the spouses do not need to prove that there are some fault-based reasons to end their marriage like adultery or abandonment.
If one wants to file for a divorce, they should meet a residency requirement. One or both spouses must have resided in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce, according to Fla. Stat. § 61.021.
To prove the above, one of the spouses must have either of the following:
- Florida driver’s license;
- A valid Florida ID card;
- Voter’s registration card;
- A third-party witness to prove residency in the state.
The time to process a divorce depends on a variety of factors, such as:
- Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested;
- Whether there are children or complex assets in the divorce proceedings;
- Whether both spouses are willing to come to a mutually beneficial agreement;
- Whether a divorce attorney participates in a contested lawsuit and how experienced they are.
Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage in Florida
Since modern Florida divorce statutes started to regulate the institution of marriage, the most common among reasons for divorce in Florida is the statement of inability to save the marriage. The divorce based on this ground does not require much bureaucratic paperwork. “Irretrievably broken” means that the marriage cannot exist anymore since the spouses cannot maintain their relationship.
Divorce proceedings based on this ground can be either simplified or regular. A simplified divorce can only be executed if these conditions have been met:
- There must be no minor children;
- The wife must not be pregnant;
- Both entities must complete a Financial Affidavit and Property Settlement Agreement, even if there is no property;
- Both spouses must be present at the final court hearing.
Regular divorce can be either contested or uncontested. To file for the divorce, the petitioner proves residence in Florida and declares the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. The summons for the hearing is served on the defendant, i.e. the second spouse.
With an uncontested divorce, both spouses must:
- Resolve all issues that relate to joint property, debts, and minor children in a marital settlement agreement;
- File a financial affidavit within 45 days of filing for divorce;
- Be present at the final hearing in court.
A contested divorce is one where spouses cannot agree on the property issues, debts, and questions related to minor children of the marriage. In that case, the petitioner and the defendant will appear before a judge, who will decide their case.
Mental Illness as a Ground for Divorce
The second (and the last) of the reasons for filing for divorce in Florida is mental incapacity according to Fla. Stat. § 61.052 (b). This is not a commonly used ground because of the complicated court procedure and the presence of a valid objective reason in the form of mental illness. In accordance with divorce law in Florida, a spouse claiming a divorce on this ground must prove that they:
- Obtained a judgment of mental incapacity at least three years before the divorce was filed
- Sent notice of the desire to terminate the marriage to the other spouse’s next-of-kin or legal guardian.
If the incapacitated spouse does not have a legal guardian, the judge will appoint one during divorce proceedings in Florida in the best interests of the other party.
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