The divorce rate in the United States has been steadily declining since the 1980s. However, upwards of 40 percent of them still end in divorce.
If you are among these, this can be a tumultuous time full of emotional stress. It can be difficult to know what steps to take.
Among these decisions are those related to the legal aspects of divorce. No-fault divorce in Florida is a pretty straightforward process, but there are some things you need to know.
Below are some common questions about no-fault divorce. It will give you the information you need to move forward with the process and with your life.
What Is No-Fault Divorce?
When you file for divorce, you need to establish a legally justified reason, or grounds, for doing so. No-fault states only require that both parties agree that the marriage has “irreconcilable differences” or is irretrievably broken.” Currently, 17 states have only no-fault divorce laws.
No-fault divorce means that neither spouse has to prove that the other one is “at fault” for the breakdown of the marriage. This would otherwise entail proving infidelity, abuse, or other misconduct like concealing money or assets.
The idea behind no-fault divorce is threefold. One is the idea that, if both parties are of sound mind and desire divorce, then they are in the best position to make that decision.
Next, it encourages both parties to reconcile their differences without the assistance of the court system. This in turn affords a third benefit, which is that it expedites the process, minimizing legal and court costs.
Although Florida does not demand “fault” as grounds for divorce, you still have to show that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” In most cases, the court will not investigate the details of a broken marriage. Yet it is important to note that they can require proof that supports the petition you have filed.
How Do You File for a Divorce in Florida?
Florida is a “no-fault” state. Except for instances where one party is mentally incapacitated, married people in the state must agree and declare that the marriage should end. While the process of filing for a no-fault divorce in Florida is pretty straightforward, it is important to follow the necessary steps.
To start the divorce process in Florida, one spouse must file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” with the court system. They must then serve the other spouse with a copy of the filing. If the second spouse does not contest the petition, a court will generally grant the divorce aver a waiting period of at least 20 days.
Note that different jurisdictions in the state have distinct requirements for how the second spouse “agrees to the petition.” A reputable Florida divorce attorney can help you understand the precise steps to take depending on where you live.
Does No-Faul Apply to Alimony and Splitting Property?
No. Simply because a couple files for a no-fault divorce does not mean that the “fault” of one or both spouses cannot come into play during proceedings. Judges can use the actions of either spouse during the marriage to make determinations about the case. These can include ruling on disputes over property, child custody, or child support payments.
For example, if one party used assets to carry out and conceal an affair, a mediator or judge can factor this in when determining alimony allotments or dividing property. Florida is one of only a handful of states that allows judges to use marital misconduct in this way. The same is true if you work out the dispute in mediation, without going to court.
Note that alimony cannot be withheld or awarded only to punish an unfaithful spouse. It cannot take precedence over the financial needs of one spouse or the other’s ability to pay. The court will consider these other factors, but marital wrongdoing can be among them.
What About Custody and Child Support?
In the state of Florida, custody and child support determinations are made based on what is in the best interest of the child. Unless there was abuse by one spouse, courts generally support decisions that allow frequent and continuous contact. They also tend to allow both parents to share in decision-making for the child.
Beyond that, judges will take into account myriad factors when determining custody and child support. These can include things like the living arrangements preferred by the child if they are of a certain age.
Like with alimony or property, decisions about the child can be influenced by the actions of either or both spouses during the marriage. Again, a judge cannot use custody or child support to “punish” a spouse for things like infidelity. But they can consider these factors when making determinations about what is best for the child.
Are There Other Requirements?
Yes. If a couple seeking a divorce in Florida have children, there are other requirements they must meet.
One is that they must complete a four-hour “Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course.” These classes must meet the standards laid about by the state Department of Children and Families (DCF). The intention is to educate parents on the impacts divorce has on children and their families as a whole.
These courses are available in person with local providers authorized by DCF. You also can find approved webinars and online courses that meet the requirement without leaving your home.
Learn More About No-Fault Divorce in Florida
Now that you understand the ins and outs of no-fault divorce in Florida, you can determine how best to proceed. Meeting all the requirements is not difficult but essential for moving forward.
Our Florida Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course is an extremely cost-effective and straightforward way to satisfy all standards laid out by DCF. While the state requires you to spend at least four hours reviewing this information, with our system, you can stop and start at your convenience. Sign up today to get started.