As you likely already know, Florida has unique laws, and divorce is no different. This can make divorce challenging here. However here are three things you should avoid to protect your rights and interests in a divorce.
Do not file for divorce without meeting the residency requirement
Florida requires that at least one spouse live in the Sunshine State for at least 6 months before filing for divorce. This rule is designed to make sure that spouses cannot forum shop, or try to find the state that will be most favorable to their divorce situation. If you fail to meet this requirement, your case will either be transferred to another state or be dismissed. You will need to provide proof of residency as well, like bills, voter registration, driver’s license, etc.
Do not assume that your property will be split 50/50
In the property division process, Florida allows for equitable division, which means division is done based on what is fair, not 50/50. Courts will consider several factors when making this determination, like how long you have been married, what you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse contributed to the marriage and each other’s economic success and, if there are children, the best interests of the children.
And, do not assume that the property you brought in the marriage and all property acquired during the marriage will be split. If there was co-mingled funds or marital assets used to service pre-marital property, it could be split in the property division process. Similarly, gifts to one spouse and inheritances to one spouse will likely not qualify as marital assets. This is why you should inventory those assets and debts that you believe should not be divided and include proof as to why.
Do not agree to alimony or child support without professional consultation
Unless there is a premarital or postnuptial agreement, alimony and child custody vary based on the facts of the case. Do not agree to either without professional consultation first. You could unwittingly give up your rights or agree to something that you would not have been obligated to, had you let the court system decide. After all, child support is based on a formula that you can make a learned guess on prior to the divorce.
Florida divorces are complex, but you can reduce the issues that complexity creates by understanding the law and your rights and responsibilities. Do not agree to anything without that understanding or professional consultation.