Florida Family and Domestic Law
The umbrella of family law covers more than just divorce – it also includes issues like adoption and guardianship, for example. But divorce is the most common type of family law case, and Florida divorce law includes a few wrinkles that not all other states share.
Florida Grounds for Divorce
Every state requires grounds for divorce – a reason to end your marriage that the law deems acceptable. Florida recognizes only two grounds for divorce. First, you can claim that your marriage is “irretrievably broken,” which effectively means that you just don’t want to be married anymore. In this case, you don’t have to provide the court with any specific proof that your marriage is doomed. Second, you can claim that your spouse has an incurable mental illness, which is called a “mental incapacity” under Florida law. If you choose this option, you would have to prove that your soon-to-be ex has been mentally incapacitated for at least the past three years. So even if he or she is legitimately of unsound mind – it’s not just your personal opinion – you’re generally still much better off claiming that your marriage is irretrievably broken.
Alimony and Child Support in Florida
Alimony isn’t necessarily a life sentence in Florida the way it often was in years past. Florida law currently recognizes four kinds of alimony, and only one is long term.
- Rehabilitative alimony lasts only long enough for your ex to hone old job skills or learn new ones so that he or she can get a job and be self-supporting.
- Bridge-the-gap alimony can be ordered in situations where your spouse has been relying on your income. This provides your ex with some extra money until he or she is able to become financially self-sufficient. Florida law provides that this kind of alimony can’t exceed two years.
- Durational alimony also lasts only for a prescribed amount of time – no longer than the number of years you were married under most circumstances.
- Permanent alimony is only ordered after long-term marriages – 17 years or more. And, despite the name, it’s not always permanent. If your spouse remarries, you’re off the hook.
As for child support in Florida, this is based on both parents’ incomes using a formula called income shares. The basic idea behind it is that your kids are entitled to the same level of support they would have enjoyed if you’d all remained living under the same roof.
The Divorce Process
Florida makes it reasonably easy to get divorced. In fact, if you waive alimony, reach an agreement about your property and debts, don’t have children, and meet a few other minor requirements, you’re eligible for a simplified dissolution. This means that you can be divorced in pretty much the blink of an eye. Even if you don’t meet all of the requirements for a simplified dissolution, you can still get a divorce without much fuss if you both agree that your marriage is irretrievably broken and if you reach an agreement on how to resolve all issues. If you can’t reach an agreement, the case will proceed to trial.
If you’ve decided to move forward with getting a divorce and you need assistance, the Jonesville/Newberry law office of Thomas Robinson is here to help. We’re here even if you just want to talk it out and explore your options. We’re available via text or phone at 352-222-3222, or at @tomrobinsonlaw on Twitter. You can also reach out to us right here on our website.
Talk to Tom today.