Divorce in Florida: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated April 3, 2024by Charlie Barton

From how to file to how much it will cost you, this guide will take you through the divorce process in the state of Florida.

Summary

  • There are two main grounds for divorce in Florida that you must have before you can be granted a divorce – irreconcilable differences and mental incapacity.

  • The cost of a divorce will depend on the unique circumstances, but the average cost in the US is between $15,000 and $20,000.

  • Florida does not have a mandatory separation period for divorce.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the grounds for divorce in Florida?

In Florida, there are two grounds for divorce:

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  • The marriage is irretrievably broken, commonly referred to as irreconcilable differences.

  • The mental incapacity of one of the parties.

It is important to note that in Florida, the law does not allow spouses to assign fault to one another to gain an advantage in property division or alimony during divorce proceedings. 

However, one exception to this law is in the case of domestic violence or abuse. Here, if there is evidence, a judge can issue orders to protect abuse victims before the divorce's finalization.

What is the cost of divorce in Florida?

The cost of divorce in Florida can show significant variation based on individual circumstances.

According to Forbes, the median cost of divorce in the US is $7,000, while the average is between $15,000 and $20,000.

The cost fluctuates depending on each unique situation, with divorces involving children almost always being more expensive.

This variability is influenced by numerous factors, including: 

  • Disagreements on key matters

  • Overall financial situation

  • Presence of children

  • Level of cooperation

  • The legal approach taken by attorneys

  • Willingness to reach agreements

The filing paperwork costs a little over $400 to initiate a divorce in Florida, though the exact sum varies depending on the county. This fee primarily covers the filing process and also includes expenses related to serving a summons to the other party.

How to file for divorce in Florida?

When filing for divorce in Florida, there are rules and regulations you must follow; these include:

  1. Meeting the residency requirement: One spouse must have been a Florida resident for at least six months before initiating the divorce process.

  2. Filing necessary forms: To initiate the divorce process, you must begin by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage with the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse resides. In addition to this form, you may also need to file other forms depending on your specific circumstances, such as a financial affidavit, a notice of Social Security number, and a parenting plan if there are minor children involved.

  3. Completing the 20-day waiting period: Once you start a marriage dissolution, you must wait for 20 days before a Circuit Court Judge hears the case.

  4. Waiting for the final judgment: Following the waiting period, the process culminates when the Judge signs the  Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.

It’s also important to note Florida does not have a mandatory separation period for divorce. Couples can initiate divorce proceedings when the decision to dissolve the marriage is reached.

How do you split up assets in Florida?

In Florida, when a couple files for divorce, their marital assets and liabilities are subject to “equitable distribution,” meaning that the court will divide them fairly and equally. This usually results in a 50/50 split unless there are factors that would make an equal division inequitable. 

This division of assets includes the following steps:

  1. Determine property classification: An asset or debt is categorized as marital or separate property.

  2. Equitable distribution: Marital property and debts fall under equitable distribution by the court, meaning they are subject to division.

  3. Exclude separate property: Property owned solely by one spouse remains unaffected and is not divided as part of the divorce process.

It is worth noting that the court in Florida will consider several factors to ensure an equitable distribution of assets, including:

  • Each spouse’s income and earning potential

  • The length of the couple’s marriage

  • The number of minor children at home

  • Whether one spouse made career sacrifices for the other spouse’s education or job

  • Each spouse’s debts and assets

  • Each spouse’s overall physical and mental health

  • Any other relevant factor

How does alimony work in Florida?

Florida recognizes various alimony types, each differing in duration, form, and quantum.

These factors are assessed on a case-by-case basis and often include factors such as the duration of the marriage, financial resources, contributions, and potential sacrifices.

What happens to children during a divorce in Florida?

Children are often caught in the middle during a divorce. 

Here is a breakdown of how such matters are resolved during a divorce in Florida:

1. Child Custody

In Florida, the term used for child custody is parental responsibility. 

Parents involved in a child custody case must create a parenting plan that includes a time-sharing schedule, which the court must approve. 

If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will step in.

Florida law does not show preference towards either parent when making decisions about child custody. Instead, the custody arrangement is determined based on each case's specific details and circumstances.

2. Child Support

In Florida, child support is a legal obligation for parents to provide financial support for their child’s care, maintenance, education, and training. This obligation applies to all parents, whether they are married, divorced, or single. 

The amount of child support is determined by Florida’s Child Support Guidelines, which specify the amount of support to be paid in each case.

The payment amount is primarily based on the parents’ income, custody arrangements, and the number of children involved.

How to protect your finances when going through a divorce in Florida

As you go through a divorce, questions about safeguarding your assets, managing debts, and securing your future may weigh heavily on your mind. Here are some practical strategies to help you safeguard your money during this challenging time:

  1. Get Organized: Before initiating divorce proceedings, gather all pertinent financial records. This includes tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and details of retirement accounts. Create a comprehensive list of both marital and non-marital assets and liabilities. Armed with this information, you’ll be better equipped to negotiate a fair distribution of property and debts with your spouse.

  2. Explore Mediation: Consider opting for mediation. In this process, you and your spouse collaborate with a neutral third party to address divorce-related issues – such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Mediation offers several advantages: it’s less time-consuming, more cost-effective, and often less emotionally taxing than battling it out in court.

  3. Social Security Considerations: If your marriage lasted a decade or more, you may qualify for Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This can be a valuable source of income during retirement, especially if your former partner had a higher earning capacity. Remember, specific eligibility criteria apply, so explore this option carefully.

  4. Seek Professional Guidance: Divorce has a profound impact on your financial landscape. To navigate these changes successfully, consider consulting a financial advisor who specializes in divorce. They can provide tailored advice, helping you chart a course toward financial stability and a brighter future.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

Find your financial advisor with Unbiased today.

Writer

Charlie Barton

Charlie Barton is a writer at Unbiased. He has been writing about personal finance and investing since 2017, with extensive knowledge of platforms and products. Charlie has a first-class degree from the London School of Economics.

Need help managing your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.