Florida Divorce Attorney

Understanding Divorce in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide


Divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, is a legal process that terminates a marital union. In the state of Florida, divorce proceedings are governed by specific laws and regulations. This comprehensive guide will outline the key aspects of how divorce works in Florida, covering the legal grounds, filing process, property division, alimony, child custody, and more.

Legal Grounds for Divorce in Florida

Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that neither party is required to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. The only ground for divorce is the assertion that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” If one party believes that the marriage cannot be saved, the court will accept this as sufficient grounds for divorce.

Initiating the Divorce Process

1. Filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage:
– The divorce process in Florida typically begins with one spouse filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the family court. This document outlines the essential details of the marriage, such as the names of the spouses, their addresses, date of marriage, and any children involved.

2. Service of Process:
– Once the petition is filed, the other spouse, known as the respondent, must be served with a copy of the petition and a summons. Service can be accomplished through personal delivery by a process server or law enforcement officer or via certified mail with return receipt requested.

3. Response:
– The respondent has a specific timeframe to file a response to the petition. In this response, they may agree or disagree with the statements made in the petition and can raise any issues they wish the court to consider.

Property Division

1. Equitable Distribution:
– Florida follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital assets and liabilities. This does not necessarily mean an equal 50/50 split but rather a fair distribution based on various factors, including each spouse’s contributions, financial circumstances, and the duration of the marriage.

2. Marital and Non-Marital Property:
– Marital property includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage, subject to equitable distribution. Non-marital or separate property typically includes assets owned by one spouse before the marriage or acquired through inheritance or gift during the marriage.

3. Valuation of Assets:
– The court may require the valuation of assets, such as real estate, businesses, and investments, to determine their fair market value for distribution purposes.


1. Types of Alimony:
– Florida recognizes various types of alimony, including:
– Temporary alimony during the divorce proceedings.
– Bridge-the-gap alimony to help a spouse transition to single life.
– Durational alimony for a set period following the divorce.
– Permanent alimony for long-term financial support.

2. Factors Considered:
– The court considers factors such as the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the financial resources of each party, and each party’s contribution to the marriage when determining alimony awards.

Child Custody and Support

1. Parental Responsibility:
– Florida emphasizes the concept of parental responsibility, which involves decision-making authority for major aspects of a child’s life, including education, healthcare, and religion. The court may award shared parental responsibility or sole parental responsibility based on the best interests of the child.

2. Time-Sharing Arrangements:
– Time-sharing refers to the allocation of physical time each parent spends with the child. The court establishes a parenting plan that outlines the specific time-sharing schedule, including holidays, vacations, and other special occasions.

3. Child Support Guidelines:
– Florida uses child support guidelines to determine the amount of financial support one parent must provide to the other for the child’s needs. Factors such as income, childcare expenses, and healthcare costs are considered in calculating child support.

Mediation and Settlement

1. Mediation Requirement:
– In many Florida counties, mediation is a mandatory step before a divorce case goes to trial. Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps the spouses reach agreements on issues such as property division, alimony, and child custody.

2. Settlement Agreements:
– If the spouses can reach agreements on all aspects of the divorce, they can submit a settlement agreement to the court. The court will review and, if deemed fair and reasonable, incorporate it into the final judgment of divorce.

Finalizing the Divorce

1. Final Judgment of Dissolution:
– Once all issues are resolved, either through agreement or court decision, the judge issues a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This document officially terminates the marriage.

2. Post-Divorce Matters:
– After the divorce is finalized, both parties must adhere to the terms outlined in the judgment. This includes following parenting plans, paying alimony or child support, and complying with property division orders.


Navigating the divorce process in Florida involves understanding the legal requirements, negotiating various aspects of the dissolution, and adhering to court orders. Each divorce case is unique, and seeking legal advice from a qualified family law attorney is crucial to ensuring that your rights are protected and that you make informed decisions throughout the process.

Remember, this overview provides a general understanding of how divorce works in Florida, but the specifics of your case may vary. Legal professionals can provide tailored advice based on your circumstances, helping you navigate the complexities of divorce law and achieve a fair resolution for all parties involved.

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