If you are considering or are going through the process of getting divorced, it can be a tumultuous and emotional time in your life. Dealing with an unfamiliar legal process can add to an already stressful situation; understanding more about what you can expect may help ease some of that stress. Here are answers to some of the most frequently-asked questions about getting a divorce in Florida:

Who can file for divorce in Florida?

In order to be eligible to get divorced in Florida, either you or your spouse must have been a Florida-resident for at least six months before filing, with the intention of staying in the state. All couples with children filing for divorce in Florida are also required to take a mandatory 4-hour parenting class before the divorce can be finalized.

How long will the process take?

If you and your spouse can come to agreement on how to handle things like child custody/visitation, child support, alimony, and how your property and liabilities will be divided, your divorce may be relatively fast. If, however, you cannot agree on one or more of those issues, your divorce may take a year or more to be finalized.

How does the court decide which parent gets custody of minor children?

Time sharing (custody) of minor children is determined based on the best interest of the children, with no pre-determined preference for giving primary custody to one parent or the other.

Does my spouse have to agree to the divorce?

If your spouse doesn’t agree to get divorced, Florida law provides that the court can still find the marriage is irretrievably broken. The court could require 90 days of marriage counseling; however, this is not done very frequently.

Do I have to prove fault to get a divorce in Florida?

Florida is a “no-fault” state for divorce. There are two grounds for divorce in Florida. First, if your spouse has been deemed mentally incapacitated for at least three years, you can get a divorce based on his or her mental incapacity. Otherwise, you can get a divorce based on “irreconcilable differences.”

How is child support determined?

Child support is intended to pay for children’s basic support needs, including things such as health insurance, day care expenses, shelter, food, clothing, etc. Ultimately, financial support of a minor child is the responsibility of both parents. The court will determine based on specific calculations how much child support is to be paid from one parent to the other parent.

Will I receive alimony from my spouse after the divorce?

Alimony, also called “spousal support”, may be ordered if the court determines you have a financial need for such support and that your ex-spouse has the ability to pay. Years of marriage is also a significant factor in determining alimony.

How are assets and liabilities divided after a divorce in Florida? Is it a 50/50 split?

Florida uses an “equitable distribution” standard. Equitable does not mean equal, however. It’s intended to make distribution fair to both parties. This means the court will evaluate a variety of factors to determine how to best split your assets – and your debt – after a divorce.

Can time sharing (custody), alimony or child support be modified in the future?

Yes. These amounts are not set in stone and can be changed if your situation or your ex-spouse’s situation changes, however the courts are unlikely to make changes unless there has been a substantial change in your/your ex-spouse’s circumstances.

How much will it cost me to get divorced?

Because every divorce is different, it’s hard to estimate how much it will cost. Talk to your divorce attorney about the specifics of your case to learn how different issues might impact your out-of-pocket expense.

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