What are the grounds for divorce in Florida?
“Dissolution of marriage” is the legal term for ending a marriage in Florida. A dissolution of marriage is the legal act of terminating a marriage through a court action. The Florida Dissolution of Marriage Statute is designed to promote the amicable settlement of disputes that arise between the parties to a marriage and to lessen the potential harm to the spouses and their children caused by the process of the legal dissolution of marriage.
In Florida, a dissolution of marriage will not be determined on the basis of the fault of one or both of the parties. There are only two grounds for the dissolution of marriage:
- the marriage is irretrievably broken, or
- one of the parties is mentally incompetent.
The ground for the dissolution based on the incompetence of one of the parties is rarely used. It cannot be used in Florida unless the party alleged to be incompetent has been held by a judge to have been incompetent for a period of at least three years.
The more usual reason used to obtain a dissolution in Florida is that the marriage has proved to be irretrievably broken. Irretrievably broken means the parties have differences or disputes that cannot be settled, and they must be so serious that they have caused the total and complete breakdown of the marriage.
If there are minor children, or if a claim of irretrievable breakdown is denied, the court may order counseling, continue the proceedings for three months, or take such other action as may be in the best interests of the parties and children of the marriage.
In a divorce, the court declares the marriage contract broken; in an annulment, the court says that there never was a marriage. Annulment is much more difficult to prove — and is much rarer — than divorce. If you want to go this route, you will definitely need to speak to a Florida divorce attorney. Of course, if you want an annulment for religious reasons, you’ll need to consult with your priest, minister, or rabbi as well.
To obtain a dissolution of marriage in Florida, either you or your spouse must reside for at least six months in the state before filing the petition in the circuit court where you or your spouse resides.
You’ll need to provide your divorce lawyer with the following documentation in order to proceed with your dissolution. Start gathering everything together as soon as possible so that you can find out what might be missing and submit any requests for duplicates.
- Full addresses and phone numbers of both parties.
- Full names, birth dates, and addresses of all children of the marriage, their school and grade.
- Information about any prior marriage of either spouse, including a certified copy of the divorce decree.
- A copy of any domestic contracts (e.g. a prenuptial agreement).
- Information about any previous legal proceedings between the spouses or involving any of the children.
- Dates and particulars about any previous separations, attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counseling.
- Your previous year’s income tax return, and any related data from the IRS.
- Information about your current income (e.g., a current pay slip).
- A list of substantial assets and liabilities of both spouses.