Divorce in Florida

Florida is a “no fault” divorce state. That means a party wishing to file for divorce does not have to give a reason. The party only has to state that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Additionally, if one party states the marriage is irretrievably broken, the divorce will be granted, even if the other party disagrees.

Once an action for divorce, known as a petition for dissolution of marriage, is filed, the parties exchange financial information. This exchange is required by statute. Financial information is used by the Court to determine equitable distribution of the assets and liabilities, among other things. As a general rule, assets and liabilities obtained or incurred during the marriage are considered marital property. Marital property can include income earned during the marriage, retirement and savings accounts to which the parties contributed during the marriage, and personal property purchased during the marriage, such as cars, boats, furniture, jewelry, and any other personal property. The fact that a party purchased something with his or her “own money” does not change the marital aspect of the property. Moreover, title to a vehicle solely in one party’s name is still marital if purchased with marital funds.

A home purchased during the marriage, even if deeded in only one party’s name, is still marital property if marital funds were used to purchase the property and/or pay the mortgage.

Keep in mind, all of the debt incurred during the marriage, for the purchase and upkeep of marital property, is marital as well. The vehicle loans, furniture loans, the mortgage, even if only in one party’s name, the credit card debt, will all be divided at the time of the divorce. Of course, the Court cannot take a saw and cut all of the assets and liabilities in half. The Court will equitably or fairly distribute the assets and liabilities so that each party ends up with roughly half of the martial estate. This is known as equitable distribution.

Of course, it is not necessary to have the Court distribute your property. You can enter into a settlement agreement with your spouse on your own, or with the assistance of legal counsel. Even if you file a petition for dissolution, you will have the opportunity to resolve your case at any time, even up until trial.