Same-sex marriages and divorces in Florida were legally recognized on January 6, 2015. Five months later, the Supreme Court legalized such marriages nationwide. Since then, all the judges in Florida are bound by the law to recognize and grant any lesbian and gay divorce under identical conditions as for heterosexual unions.
The procedure for same-sex divorce in Florida is regulated by Florida Statutes and is standard statewide. Only formally registered marriages are recognized and subject to marriage dissolution procedures. Since January 1968, common-law marriage is no longer legal in Florida. However, it can be accepted if another state validated it.
Same-sex divorce online
Divorce over the internet is possible for couples who have an uncontested divorce. A do-it-yourself divorce is a quick and relatively inexpensive option when it comes to preparing for the dissolution process without a lawyer. However, to be eligible to file for divorce in Florida, same-sex couples must comply with the residency requirements.
Since finding the right forms and filling them out yourself requires time and is not always productive, using the help of an online service can be a good option. Onlinefloridadivorce.com is a great resource to get same-sex divorce papers in Florida at a very affordable price of $139. The platform provides you with the printable documents completed according to the details of your case. Once the papers are obtained, you will just need to sign them and file them with the court in person.
Same-sex divorce papers in Florida
After the decision to get a divorce has been made, it is essential to collect the information on how to file for same-sex divorce in Florida. The divorce process for same-sex couples is basically the same as for heterosexual ones and begins with filing the petition for marriage dissolution. Other same-sex divorce forms in Florida vary depending on the complexity of your cases.
The more issues there are to consider, the more extensive documentation you will have to provide. As a rule, if you use the services of a family law lawyer, you will have to include an hourly fee in the overall budget of your case. However, if there are no contested issues between you and your spouse, you can prepare the same-sex divorce paperwork by yourself, without an attorney, using the online services in Florida.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Florida
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to determining the grounds for same-sex marriage dissolution. Therefore, to file for divorce in Florida, there is no need to provide the court with any fault-based grounds, such as adultery or cruelty.
However, it is still necessary to indicate one of the following two reasons, as stated in Section 61.052 of Florida Statutes:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken, meaning that spouses can no longer proceed as a married couple because of substantial differences between them.
- Mental incapacity of one of the spouses for three years before filing for divorce. The fact of mental disability has to be proven following a standard procedure that includes examining witnesses at a court hearing.
Custody of the Child
The parent-child relationship in divorce proceedings is one of the most important and most scrutinized issues addressed by Florida law. Similar to other states, custody is determined with the best interest of a child as a priority. By default, both legal parents have equal rights to be awarded custody of the children, so long as neither of them was charged with child abuse or domestic violence.
There are two major types of custody:
- Legal custody
- Physical custody
Legal custody refers to the parents' right to decide important aspects of a child’s life, such as their health, education, and wellbeing. Typically, a judge decides to grant joint legal custody. Physical custody, which refers to which parent the child will reside, may be awarded to one of the parents, while the other will have a visitation schedule.
For parents with children, it is also obligatory to attend parenting class. These classes provide essential information concerning the minimization of detrimental effects of the divorce on the children.
The judge has the right to order one or both parents to pay child support to the party who has custody of a child. The amount of support is calculated according to the state guidelines, described in Section 61.30 of Florida Statutes. The formula usually includes the income, the time spent with each parent, the number of children, daycare, and healthcare costs.
Payments continue as long as one of the following conditions are active:
- The child is under 18 years of age.
- The child is under 19 years of age and has not graduated from school yet.
- The child is incapacitated physically or mentally, in which case the support is prolonged.
Also, the termination of child support may occur if a child is under 18, but he or she is emancipated, married, or has joined the military.
In the divorce process, Florida judges may grant spousal support, or alimony, to one of the parties. The payment can be either periodic or in a lump sum, and appointed either for a specified duration of time or permanent.
The judge decides whether alimony is needed, and the ability of one spouse to provide such support to another. For this purpose, the court reviews various financial information concerning each of the parties.
When determining the amount of spousal support, the following factors are considered ( Section 61.08 of Florida Statutes):
- The standard of living before the marriage dissolution
- The length of the marriage
- Financial assets of either spouse
- Capacity to provide for the living, including employment prospects
- Contribution of each spouse to the marriage
- Responsibilities concerning minor children
- Other relative factors
When the marriage dissolution procedure begins, one of the most confusing questions is, “how is property divided after the divorce?” Florida is a state with an equitable distribution system, meaning that in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, all marital property is divided fairly (but not necessarily equally) between the spouses.
In order to divide assets and financial liabilities, there must be a clear understanding of what property is marital, since only this type is subject to division. According to Section 61.075 of Florida Statutes, marital property includes:
- assets and liabilities acquired in the marriage by either spouse or together
- the enhancement of non-marital assets using marital funds
- gifts between spouses during the marriage
- real and personal property held by the parties as tenants
- benefits, rights, and funds accumulated during the marriage
With complicated cases, however, it is better to consult an attorney to avoid costly mistakes that are not easy to eliminate in the future.
In the event of arising contested issues concerning child custody, support, or visitation, the spouses may be referred to mediation following the Supreme Court rules (Section 31.183 of Florida Statutes ). This process is an alternative to the divorce trial and involves a third party that guides the spouses through the process of conflict resolution. The mediator assists the couple in reaching an amicable agreement, which then has to be approved by the court. If some issues are left unresolved, the judge will decide them at his or her discretion.
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Florida
In order to file for same-sex marriage dissolution, a couple must pay the filing fee of $409. Along with this sum, a petitioner has to pay a $10 summons fee. This is one of the highest prices in the USA. There is an option to apply for indigent civil status, which can waive the court fees, in cases where the petitioner is financially incapable of paying.
How long will take it
In Florida, divorce for same-sex couples is subject to the same procedure as the heterosexual marriage dissolution. If the residency requirements are met (which takes six weeks of permanent living in the state of Florida), the spouse files the petition for marriage dissolution. After that, the other party is served with a copy of the documents and has to submit a response. It is up to the petitioner to decide how to serve the other spouse with the papers. If he or she chooses to use the services of a sheriff, additional payments will be in order. This option does not guarantee a fast serving, though, especially if the other spouse is not willing to be served.
The length of divorce process depends on the complexity of the case, the involvement of children, the amount and importance of property, and other issues. For instance, contested cases include the time of mediation, while the uncontested ones do not, and in total can take up to six months and longer. Because local rules of Florida courts require a mandatory waiting period of 20 days after the documents have been filed, even in an uncontested case, the length of a divorce cannot be less than 20 days.