Divorce is a deeply personal experience and one that varies significantly based on individual circumstances. Some couples amicably agree on a straightforward dissolution. Others discover their situation is more complex, with disputes arising about property division and parenting duties. No matter which type of divorce you’re facing, one consistent factor we’ve found to be true is the value of understanding the journey that lies ahead.
Being well-informed about the steps and potential hurdles you might face during your divorce can ease common apprehensions and encourage better decision-making. Even in situations where disagreements run high, consulting a Florida family law attorney can give you a more thorough understanding of the state’s divorce laws, which can mitigate stress and foster a more constructive outcome.
Divorce in Florida: The Basics
What your divorce entails will vary depending on the specifics of your case, including whether there are minor children involved or if there are disagreements over the division of assets and debts. Generally speaking, however, most Florida divorces follow a similar process.
- Residency requirements. Before filing for divorce in Florida, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months.
- Petition for dissolution. All divorces officially begin when one spouse (the petitioner) files a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage”. The petition outlines the reasons for the divorce and the petitioner’s desires regarding parenting responsibilities, property division, alimony, and other issues.
- Service of the petition. Once your petition is filed with the court, you must serve it on the other spouse (the respondent). They then have 20 days to file an answer.
- Mandatory disclosure. Florida family law requires each party to exchange certain financial information and documents. This ensures the parties have the necessary information to make decisions about property division and other financial matters.
- Parenting plan and course. If there are minor children involved, the spouses must complete a parenting course before the court will finalize the divorce.
- Mediation. The court will require spouses to attend mediation in an effort to resolve some or all of their issues. There are limited exceptions to the mediation requirement.
- Trial. If you and your spouse can’t resolve one or more issues, a judge will decide them for you. It’s nearly always preferable to come to an agreement outside the courtroom.
- Final judgment. Once all issues are resolved, the court issues a “Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage,” officially ending the marriage.
New Florida Divorce Laws: What You Need to Know
On July 1, 2023, major changes to Florida family law went into effect with the Alimony Reform Bill. The changes are not retroactive; and only apply to new or pending divorce petitions filed in the state. The most significant update is the elimination of permanent alimony.
The new law includes limits for durational alimony defining how long alimony can last:
- For couples married three to ten years, alimony cannot exceed 50% of the marriage’s length. In other words, if the marriage ends after three years, a spouse may only receive alimony for a year and a half.
- In marriages lasting ten to 20 years, alimony is limited to 60% of the marriage’s length.
- For couples married over 20 years, the limit is 75% of the length of the marriage.
Consult a Cobb Cole Family Law Attorney for Your Florida Divorce
Making your way through Florida’s often complex divorce proceedings can be emotionally and mentally draining. With a reputable family law firm by your side, you can alleviate much of the stress.
If you’re planning to divorce, the skilled attorneys at Cobb Cole will assist you throughout the process, from drafting your petition to advocating for your rights and interests. We offer personalized advice and representation that ensures the best possible outcome.
Contact us today to learn more about Florida’s divorce process and how we can help you bring your case to a favorable conclusion.