Wondering whether Florida is a no-fault state for divorce? Read on for everything you need to know about the grounds for divorce in Florida.
Divorce, or dissolution of marriage as it is called in Florida, is a legal process that can be emotionally and financially draining. If you're considering divorce in Florida, you may have heard the term "no-fault divorce" before.
But what exactly does that mean, and is Florida a no-fault divorce state? In this article, we'll discuss the grounds for divorce in Florida, including the concept of no-fault divorce and its implications.
In Florida, there are only two grounds for divorce, and they are both considered no-fault grounds. Unlike other states, you cannot file for an at-fault divorce in Florida.
The two grounds for divorce in Florida are:
So, is Florida a no-fault state for divorce? Yes, which means that a spouse seeking a divorce in Florida does not need to prove fault or wrongdoing by the other spouse.
Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is by far the most common ground for divorce in Florida, and it is the equivalent of what other states frequently call “irreconcilable differences.”
It refers to a breakdown of the marriage that cannot be resolved, whether due to communication issues, financial problems, or simply growing apart over time. Filing for a divorce based on an irretrievably broken marriage does not require either spouse to prove wrongdoing (e.g. adultery or abuse).
That said, not all no-fault divorces are quick and easy -- a Florida no-fault divorce could still proceed as either an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce. In other words, even though you do not need to prove a fault-based ground to be granted a divorce, spouses can (and do) still fight all the time about issues such as alimony, property division, child support, and child custody.
And a court may consider factors such as whether one spouse has committed adultery in sorting through the details of a divorce, which we’ll discuss more below.
Mental incapacitation is the only other ground for divorce in Florida, though it is far less common than divorces based on irretrievable breakdown.
To file for divorce on this ground, one spouse be mentally incapacitated for at least three years leading up to the filing.
Filing for divorce on the grounds of mental incapacitation can be a complex process, and it is advisable to consult with a family law attorney who has experience in this area. The incapacitated spouse may require a legal guardian, which the court may appoint if necessary.
It is also worth noting that the incapacitated spouse is entitled to legal representation and may contest the divorce if they are capable of doing so.
So, Florida is a no-fault divorce state, and there are no fault-based grounds available. But what impact do things like adultery have on the outcome of a divorce in Florida?
Even though Florida does not provide for at-fault divorce on these grounds, infidelity can still affect the outcome of your divorce proceedings.
How does adultery affect divorce in Florida? Infidelity during a marriage may impact the amount of alimony that a spouse is required to pay.
Indeed, adultery is explicitly referenced in Florida divorce laws on alimony, which state the court “may consider” adultery by either spouse “and the circumstances thereof.” That said, adultery is not the main factor in calculating alimony awards and does not ensure a specific outcome. The court has the discretion to consider adultery and determine whether a monetary award should be given and its amount.
Adultery can also impact property division in Florida. Florida is an equitable distribution state which means that a court will divide a couple's marital assets and debts in a fair and equitable manner, taking into consideration various factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse's contribution to the marriage, and each spouse's economic circumstances.
Importantly, though, equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal distribution, and adultery can change the calculus of what an equitable distribution of property would be. This is particularly true if the adulterous spouse used marital funds as part of their infidelity, such as on trips or an apartment.
Each divorce case is unique, and the court will make its decision based on the specific circumstances of each case. But under Florida divorce law, adultery could alter how a court will divide marital property between spouses.
No, there are no fault-based grounds for divorce in Florida. The only two grounds for divorce in Florida are irretrievable breakdown and mental incapacitation, both of which are considered no-fault grounds for divorce.
As noted, though, things like adultery by one spouse can impact the outcome of a divorce, including how marital property is divided or how much alimony is awarded.
So, is Florida a no-fault state for divorce? Let’s recap the main things to remember about the grounds for divorce in Florida.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that neither spouse needs to prove fault or wrongdoing to get divorced. The only two grounds for divorce under Florida law are irreconcilable differences or mental incapacitation, and you can file for divorce on the basis that your marriage is irretrievably broken.
That said, no-fault divorces can still be contentious, and spouses may still end up in litigious battles over child custody, alimony, or property division. And things like adultery can still impact the resolution of such issues, even if it is not a legally recognized ground for divorce in Florida.
If you have other questions about divorce in Florida, it may be worth speaking with an experienced divorce lawyer to discuss your options. And if you do, here are the key questions to ask a divorce attorney when you first speak.