Florida Divorce Laws

Before you start divorce proceedings in the state of Florida, take the time to learn a little more about the laws.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

If you are going to file for divorce in Florida, you must first fulfill the state’s residency requirements. To file in Florida, one of the parties must have lived in the state for six months prior to signing the petition.

Florida also requires appropriate grounds for divorce, as it is not a no-fault state. However, grounds are somewhat lenient. In order to file in Florida, one of the following must be true:

  • The marriage is irretrievably broken
  • One of the parties is mentally incapacitated. This requires a three year long mental incapacitation as defied by Florida law.

If an individual is a member of the military, deciding which residency requirements apply can be challenging. Also, military members must be sure that they follow all of the family law requirements for the military. For this reason, it may be best to use a lawyer familiar with military family law before filing for divorce if one of the individuals is in the armed forces.

Division of Property

Florida is an equitable distribution state, so property in a marriage is divided based on what is fair, which may not always be what is equal. When the couple cannot agree on a distribution of their belongings, factors the courts will consider may include:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Economic condition of both parties
  • Contribution to the care and education of children or the home
  • Contribution on one spouse’s part to the education or career advancement of the other
  • Desirability of retaining assets, like businesses, without interference from the other party
  • Contribution of the individuals to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income of the marital assets
  • Desirability of keeping the marital home for the children to live in
  • Intentional waste, dissipation, depletion, or destruction of assets in the two years prior to filing for divorce
  • Other factors the courts deem necessary

Child Custody

The Florida courts retain the right to determine custody, even if the child has been removed from the state in an attempt to keep the courts from making this determination. In most instances, a shared responsibility is what the courts require in child custody arrangements. However, the courts may grant one parent the primary responsibility for the child’s care. This decision will not be made based on the parents’ genders.


Not all cases of divorce in Florida require the payment of spousal support. In those that do, all relevant economic factors will be considered, including:

  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age, physical condition, emotional condition, financial resources, education, and sources of income for each party
  • Contribution to the care of the household and career building of each party
  • Time and money needed to attain education for employment for each party

In cases involving children, support is determined based on the Income Shares Model. This means the support amount is divided proportionally based on the income of each parent. Factors considered when determining whether this amount should be increased may include:

  • Extraordinary medical, educational, dental, or psychological expenses
  • Any independent income of the child
  • Payment of support to a parent which has been regularly been paid and for which there is a clear need
  • Child’s age, understanding that older children have greater needs
  • Shared parental agreement
  • Impact of IRS dependency exemption or waiver of that exemption
  • Total available assets of all parties
  • Special needs for the child