Grounds for Divorce in Florida

Florida statutes were designed to encourage amicable settlements and to make it easier to end a marriage, all with the aim of reducing potential harm to children and spouses during the messy divorce process. In Florida, the dissolution process begins with one party filing a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” with the family division of the local circuit court. The other spouse is then served with divorce papers and given time to respond before the process proceeds.

The divorce system in Florida is based on the principle of “no-fault,” meaning that a divorce will be granted if either party believes that the marriage is over. According to Florida Statutes 61.052, marriages in the state can be dissolved based on only two grounds: 1) the marriage is irretrievably broken; or 2) there is mental incapacity of one of the spouses for a preceding period of at least three years.

For the first basis, no one needs to have a specific reason for wanting the divorce and no one needs to be blamed for the collapse of the marriage. That being said, it must be shown that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” meaning that the spouses have differences that cannot be settled. This decision does not have to be mutual; only one spouse is required to have the intent to end the marriage. As is the case for any divorce in Florida, one of you must have been a resident of Florida for at least six months.

If one of the spouses is deemed mentally incapacitated in some way, which requires adjudication of incapacity, the petitioning spouse can only dissolve the marriage after a three year period of incapacity. Given the time requirements in Florida, mental health as a basis for divorce is not used very often.

Many states require a “cooling-off” period of separation for a certain period of time before no-fault divorce proceedings can commence. During this time, the couple is required to live separate from one another with the intent that the separation will be permanent. In Florida, there is a waiting period of 20 days before finalization of the divorce can take place. This waiting period can be waived if injustice would otherwise occur. I have used this exception to divorce a couple in 17 days.

If you have questions about a divorce proceeding and would like a divorce attorney to assist you in the matter, contact us by calling today at (904) 685-1200.

Source: “The 2012 Florida Statutes,” published at Leg.State.FL.US.

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