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What is a Florida No-fault Divorce?

State law controls the rules for filing a divorce action. As such, the rules vary from state to state. In Orlando, you will be subject to the same basic rules as people getting divorced in Miami, Tampa, or any other part of Florida. Some states require that someone be “at fault” for creating the breakdown of the marriage. Other states require the same at-fault conduct, but they slightly modify the process by allowing the parties to agree that there is fault. Those states usually include a ground for divorce called “irreconcilable differences.” Other states, however, are purely “no-fault.” This means it does not matter who is at fault; people can divorce for any reason. Florida is a so-called no-fault divorce state.

Requirements of a no-fault divorce

Unlike some states that have strict limitations and waiting periods, Florida is very straightforward and fair. There are two potential reasons (also called “grounds”) for a divorce.

  • Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage: All that a person must allege is that the marriage is entirely broken and the issue is beyond repair. This is essentially what “irretrievable breakdown” means. There is no requirement that the parties agree on this.
  • Mental Incapacity: Though rarely used, the law still says that if one spouse becomes mentally incapacitated for a period of three or more years, then the other spouse may request divorce. Of course, there is little reason to file this type of action since you can simply call the marriage irretrievably broken.

What about waiting times?

Although there is no extended waiting period like some states, you do have to wait a minimum of 20 days from the date of filing for the divorce decree to be signed. Granted, this assumes your spouse is in agreement, there are no complications that would require litigation. Also, it is worth mentioning that one of you must be a Florida resident for at least six months before you are eligible to file your petition for a divorce.

Is there any reason that grounds or “fault” would matter?

Sure. While you do not need to prove that someone did something wrong to file for your divorce, bad behavior is bad behavior. It can always hurt you when you are involved in a court action. Here are just a few quick examples of things that can hurt you.

  • Parental Responsibility and Timesharing: While you do not have to prove your spouse is an alcoholic who drinks heavily around your children in order to file for divorce, it can certainly demonstrate that your children would certainly be better off residing with you. Similarly, if you have a history of criminal conduct, drug abuse, or have abused your children, expect this to be a problem .
  • Property Division: Although fault has little to do with dividing property either, it can become an issue in limited circumstances. Consider a case where one spouse becomes a habitual gambler or is completely incapable of managing his or her finances. While this may have no bearing on whether you can file for divorce, it may certainly have an impact on how a court considers property division. Similarly, if one party has never contributed financially or otherwise, though not a required “ground” for divorce, it may be part of the court’s considerations for property division, since Florida courts use what is known as “equitable distribution.”

Though state law controls the basics, local court rules and policies can make a huge difference, as can knowing how different judges may react or rule in certain types of cases. When considering a divorce, it always pays to have a local, experienced Orlando divorce lawyer advising you throughout the process. Contact Goodblatt · Leo today if you need assistance.

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