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Common Misconceptions
About Divorce in Florida

Veliz Katz Law May 17, 2022

According to the World Population Review, 13 percent of Florida residents are divorced, not far behind the highest rate of 14 percent found in Maine. Florida is also a premier destination for people relocating to escape the social and economic consequences of the pandemic and for those fleeing economic conditions in their native countries. With such a large influx of new residents, it’s perhaps not surprising that divorce may follow in the footsteps of their arrivals.  

While Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning the only grounds needed are that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” people considering divorce or already filing papers often have misunderstandings that complicate the process and lead to even further stress and bouts of conflicting emotions.

If you’re considering divorce or have been served papers in or around Orlando, Florida, contact the family law attorneys at Veliz Katz Law. Divorce is a difficult, stressful experience, and they will protect your rights while dealing with your situation in a personalized, compassionate way. Veliz Katz Law also proudly serves clients throughout Central Florida, including Kissimmee, Winter Park, and Maitland.

Common Divorce Misconceptions in Florida

Florida has done away with fault in marriage, so all it takes to begin what is legally termed a “dissolution of marriage” is for one spouse to file court documents stating the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” The other spouse will then be served papers alerting him or her to the action. Depending on how that person reacts, the dissolution can proceed in a fairly straightforward manner or it can get tied up in back-and-forth disagreements.

That being said, let’s look at some common misconceptions about divorce in Florida.

It’s possible for the other spouse to deny
the divorce after being served papers.

The spouse being served the divorce papers can indeed challenge matters, which will likely result in statements being provided to the family law court or even in oral arguments, but the court can still grant a dissolution of marriage if only one party files and the other spouse disagrees. The only grounds needed are that the marriage is broken according to the filing spouse. (The only other legal ground in Florida is the mental incapacity of one spouse.)

If adultery was involved, then the other spouse gets everything.

Though Florida is a no-fault state, fault can be taken into consideration when it comes to the division of assets, alimony, child custody, and parenting time (visitation rights). Florida law aims for an equitable distribution of assets upon dissolution of marriage, and adultery could be considered under the category of “any other relevant factor.” If the affair squandered any of the married couple’s assets, that also could be considered.

The mother is always awarded
primary custody of the children.

First off, you should consider that you and your spouse can work out a divorce settlement on your own to be submitted to the court for approval. The agreement can include issues of custody, parenting time, child and/or spousal support, as well as the division of assets. When it comes to the children and issues of custody, the court will consider whether your agreement is in the “best interests” of the children and whether it is fair and not one-sided.

If instead of agreeing among yourselves, you choose to contest everything in court, that will not only prolong the divorce proceedings but also run up legal costs. If the court must decide custody and visitation issues, the primary standard is what is in the child’s or children’s best interests. To determine best interests, the court will examine several factors, including the parents’ physical and mental health, the relationship of the child or children to each parent, the children’s emotional and other needs, and their ties to the neighborhood and community in which they are growing up.

Our assets will be split 50/50. 

Again, in an uncontested divorce, the spouses can decide the issue of who gets what among themselves. So long that it is not one-sided or unfair to one of the spouses, the court will likely give its okay. Remember, however, that Florida is not a community property state.

Though assets acquired during the marriage become the joint property of both spouses (including debts, by the way), Florida family law is based on an equitable distribution of assets rather than a straight 50/50 split. Several factors will weigh in on a court’s decision on equitable distribution, including the economic prospects of each spouse, the length of the marriage, the sacrifices and/or contributions of one spouse toward the other spouse or the children, and the desirability of maintaining the family home for the upbringing of the children.

The children will get to choose who they live with.

The preference of the child for which parent should have custody is a factor a judge will consider during a divorce proceeding. Florida law, however, does not specify an age at which the child’s wishes should be honored. It is generally assumed that the older the child, the more his or her preference should be listened to, but there is no guarantee the preference will be granted. The court always considers a number of factors.

Let Veliz Katz Law Help You

Divorce is always a difficult time for all parties involved: parents, children, grandparents, and other close relatives. Sometimes, it’s hard just to get past the initial stage of blaming everything on the other spouse, so it’s never a good idea to look upon divorce as a do-it-yourself proposition. 

You will definitely need solid legal counseling and advice on every issue from property division to custody and parenting time. After all, once the dissolution of marriage is granted, whatever was agreed upon – or decreed by the court – is going to have long-lasting impacts on everyone involved. You owe it to yourself and everyone involved to forge the best agreement possible going forward.

The family law attorneys at Veliz Katz Law stand ready to help you navigate the divorce process and make decisions that won’t come back to haunt you. If you’re in the Orlando, Florida, area or anywhere throughout Central Florida, contact them immediately if you’re considering divorce, have just begun the process, or have been served papers by your spouse. Veliz Katz Law will guide you every step of the way and provide the legal counsel and advice you need to make sound decisions.