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Legal Information: Florida

Florida Divorce

Laws current as of
October 6, 2023

This page has basic information about divorce in Florida. You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.

What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Florida?

To file for divorce in Florida, one of the spouses must live in the state for six months before the filing of the petition.1

1 Fla. Stat. § 61.021

What are the grounds for divorce in Florida?

To get a divorce in Florida, you must have one of the following grounds (reasons):

  1. the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” meaning it can never be fixed; or
  2. one of the parties has been declared mentally incapacitated by a judge at least three years before filing for divorce.1

It is possible that the abuser can argue to the judge that the marriage is not irretrievably broken and ask the judge to order counseling or mediation before granting a divorce. If this were to happen, you could inform the judge about the domestic violence and point out to the court that the divorce is in everyone’s best interests. More often, mediation could be ordered to resolve issues of the divorce, not for reconciling the marriage. At that point, if you raise the issue of domestic violence, the judge could take steps to keep you safe - for example, making sure the mediator is aware of the violence, putting you and the abuser in separate rooms, etc. Alternatively, the judge could agree that mediation is not appropriate in the situation.

1 Fla. Stat. § 61.052

What types of alimony are there?

Florida has different types of alimony: temporary, bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, and durational.1 For purposes of determining alimony, the judge will use the following guidelines:

  • a “short-term marriage” is a marriage that lasts less than ten years; 
  • a “moderate-term marriage” is a marriage that lasts between 10 and 20 years; and
  • a “long-term marriage” is a marriage that lasts more than 20 years.2  

The length of a marriage is calculated from the date of marriage until the date either spouse files for divorce.2 

Bridge-the-gap alimony

Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to help you make a transition from being married to being single. This type of alimony is to assist you with specific short-term needs. The length of the alimony award cannot be longer than two years.  The amount of alimony or the length of time that it is paid cannot later be modified by the judge.3

Rehabilitative alimony
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to help you gain the ability to support yourself through:

  • redeveloping your previous skills or credentials; or
  • getting the education, training, or work experience you need to develop work skills or credentials.4

This type of alimony will only be awarded if there is a specific and defined rehabilitative plan. The length of the alimony award cannot be longer than five years. It can later be changed or ended when there is a significant change in circumstances, if you are not following the rehabilitative plan, or if you finish the rehabilitative plan.4

Durational alimony
Durational alimony is ordered to give you financial assistance for a specific period of time, as follows:

  • for a short-term marriage, it can last for up to 50 percent of the length of the marriage - however, it cannot be ordered for a marriage that lasts less than three years;
  • for a moderate-term marriage, it can last for up to 60 percent of the length of the marriage; and
  • for a long-term marriage, it can last for up to 75 percent of the length of the marriage.5

Under exceptional circumstances, such as if you are the caregiver to a mentally or physically disabled child, the judge can extend the term of durational alimony beyond the limits described above. 

Durational alimony can later be changed when there is a significant change in circumstances. This type of alimony ends when you or your spouse dies, or if you get married.5 

1 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(1)(a)
2 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(5)
3 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(6)
4 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(7)
5 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(8)

Can I get alimony? What factors will a judge consider?

Alimony is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse and can be awarded when a divorce is granted. If you request alimony, the judge will decide if you have an actual need for alimony and if your spouse has the ability to pay it.1 The judge will consider certain factors to determine a fair amount to award, which include, but are not limited to:

  • the adultery of either spouse and any resulting economic impact;
  • the standard of living during the marriage and the anticipated needs and necessities of life for each party after the final divorce judgment;
  • the length of the marriage;
  • the age, and physical, mental, and emotional condition of you and your spouse;
  • whether either party is physically or mentally disabled and, if so, the judge will consider:
    • the resulting impact this has on:
      • your ability to provide for your own needs;  
      • the paying spouse’s ability to pay alimony; and
    • whether such conditions are expected to be temporary or permanent;
  • the resources and income of you and your spouse, including the income generated from both marital and non-marital assets;
  • the earning potential, educational levels, career levels, and the employability of you and your spouse, including the ability of either party to do the following before alimony ends:
    • get the necessary skills or education to become self-supporting; or
    • contribute to his/her self-support;
  • the contributions made by you or your spouse during the marriage, including homemaking, childcare, education, and career building of you or your spouse;
  • the responsibilities you or your spouse may have regarding any minor children from the marriage, with special consideration given to the need to care for a child with a mental or physical disability; and
  • any other factor necessary for there to be fairness and justice between you and your spouse.2

In addition, if there are special circumstances that require it, the judge may order the spouse who is paying spousal support to keep a life insurance policy or secure assets to protect the ongoing payment of support. The costs of such insurance can be ordered to be paid by either or both parties based upon a determination of each spouse’s ability to pay such costs.3

1 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(1), (2)(a)
2 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(1)(a), (3)
3 Fla. Stat. § 61.08(4)

Under what circumstances can an alimony award be modified or terminated?

Either spouse can file to change (modify) the amount of alimony if:

  • the circumstances or the financial ability of either party changes; or 
  • your spouse who is paying you alimony has reached normal or customary retirement age, has actually retired, and can prove to the judge that retirement reduces his/her ability to pay alimony.1

The judge will consider the circumstances and may change the order if the judge believes it is fair to do so.2

Alimony automatically terminates if the spouse receiving alimony remarries. In addition, the spouse who pays you alimony can file to reduce or terminate an alimony award if s/he can prove that you have a “supportive relationship” with a partner. The relationship can be current or within 365 days before s/he files the petition.3 The judge will look at the following factors to decide if you have a supportive relationship with someone:

  1. the period of time that you have lived with the other person; and
  2. the extent to which you and the other person:
    • hold yourselves out as a married couple by doing things such as:
      • using the same last name; 
      • using a common mailing address; 
      • referring to each other in terms such as “my husband” or “my wife;” or
      • otherwise acting in a way that proves a permanent supportive relationship;
    • have pooled your assets or income, use a joint bank account or other financial accounts, or otherwise show financial interdependence;
    • have financially supported each other, including payment of the other’s debts or expenses;
    • have performed valuable services for each other, or for the other’s business or employer;
    • have worked together to get assets or to enhance the value of assets; 
    • have jointly contributed to the purchase of any land (real property) or personal property; 
    • have an agreement regarding property sharing or financial support; and
    • have provided support to each other’s children or other family members, regardless of any legal duty to do so.4

The judge will also consider whether your spouse has paid the existing alimony award or failed to do so and whether there are any arrears. The judge will not consider whether you and the other person have a sexual relationship or not.5 If the judge believes that your spouse has proved that you are in a supportive relationship, the judge must reduce or terminate your alimony.3

Fla. Stat. § 61.14(1)(a), (1)(c)(1)  
Fla. Stat. § 61.14(1)(a)
Fla. Stat. § 61.14(1)(b)(1)
Fla. Stat. § 61.14(1)(b)(2)
Fla. Stat. § 61.14(1)(b)(2), (1)(b)(3)

What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?

While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:

  • First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state.
  • Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
  • Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse. (To learn more about filing a summons, preparing a petition, and service of process, go to the Starting the Court Case page in our Preparing for Court - By Yourself section.)
  • Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then he will have the opportunity to file papers telling his side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” If he contests it, then you will have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, then he should sign the papers and send them back to you. If your spouse agrees with everything and signs the papers, this is called a “simplified divorce” BUT it is only available if you do not have children with your spouse. If your spouse does not sign the papers for a simplified divorce, you would have to file a regular petition for dissolution of marriage. If your spouse doesn’t respond to those papers after being properly served, you can get a divorce “by default.”
  • Fifth, if there is property that you need divided or if you need financial support from your spouse, then you will have to work that out either in an out-of-court settlement or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

Where can I find additional information about divorce?

We hope the following links to outside sources may be helpful.

The Florida Courts website provides court forms that you may need if you wish to get a divorce in Florida.

In addition, the Florida Bar Association has a lot of information about divorce, including information on alimony and property division.

WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their site. We provide these links for your information only.

You will find more information about divorce, including the risks of taking your children out of state while a divorce is pending, on our general Divorce page. To watch brief videos about divorce in Spanish with English sub-titles, go to our Videos page. Lastly, learn more about the court process on our Preparing for Court – By Yourself page.