Miami Family Law Specialist Explains Grounds for Divorce

What you need to know when filing for dissolution of marriage in Florida

In Florida, and all across the country, the divorce process has been simplified greatly over the last half-century. Now, every state in the union has a no-fault option, and many have done away with grounds for divorce altogether. Still, we see many clients who are confused about Florida’s no-fault grounds, how no-fault divorce relates to uncontested divorce, and whether marital misconduct influences a divorce at all. Because we want you to be fully informed and fully prepared if you decide to seek a divorce, Rafool, PLLC offers this short explanation of Florida’s grounds for divorce. We are happy to answer any questions you might have when you schedule an initial consultation at our firm.

What are the grounds for divorce in Florida?

Historically, petitioners for divorce had to prove that their spouses’ misconduct provided a justification for dissolving the marriage. Traditional grounds for a divorce included:

  • Abandonment
  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Conviction of a felony crime
  • Insanity

However, society came to see these grounds as too restrictive, and requiring the petitioner to allege misconduct in a filing was viewed as an unnecessary invasion of privacy. Reformers made changes that now allow a petitioner greater discretion.

Although some states allow the petitioner a choice of citing traditional grounds or filing no-fault, Florida’s filings are all no-fault. Our state allows the petitioner two options:

  • Pleading the marital relationship is irretrievably broken
  • Citing the permanent mental incapacity of the other spouse

The petitioner does not have to prove that the marital relationship is broken. However, if the responding spouse believes reconciliation is possible, the court can order a meeting with a marriage counselor or other qualified person to try to save the marriage, granting a stay of proceedings for not more than three months. If the petitioner still maintains the relationship is broken, the case moves forward.

In the case of insanity, the existence of the condition must have been adjudicated in court and ruled upon by a judge at least three years prior to the filing.

No-fault does not mean uncontested

Many people believe that a no-fault divorce does not go to trial. That’s not necessarily true. In a no-fault divorce action, the petitioner doesn’t have to prove marital misconduct. There are still many other issues the parties must resolve before the court can dissolve the marriage. The parties can, and should, try to reach a settlement agreement through a nonadversarial method such as mediation or collaboration so they can have an uncontested divorce. But if they cannot settle every aspect of their divorce, the outstanding issues must go to trial. The result is a contested divorce.

Marital misconduct can still affect your divorce

Historically, marital misconduct, such as adultery or cruelty, provided grounds to punish the guilty spouse by denying alimony or increasing the support order. These days, judges are not as interested in being arbiters of morality. However, if the adulterous spouse has spent marital funds on an extramarital relationship, a court can penalize him or her in the distribution of marital property.

Adultery or any other marital misconduct can also factor into a child custody ruling. If, in the opinion of the court, the conduct has had and will continue to have a negative effect on the child(ren), the court can restrict parenting time in a manner that serves the best interest of the child(ren).

As you can see, even the simplest divorce can become complicated. To make sure your divorce process goes as smoothly as possible, make sure you choose a board-certified family law specialist to represent you.

Schedule an initial consultation on no-fault divorce with a family law specialist in Miami

If you are concerned about how to make the Florida divorce process work for you, Rafool, PLLC can help. For advice on proven strategies, call us at (305) 567-9400 or contact our Miami office online to schedule an initial consultation.