Dissolution of marriage is the legal term for a divorce action. Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means that a spouse does not need to prove that the other spouse is at fault for causing the break of the marriage in order to obtain a final judgment of divorce. A divorce lawyer may file a petition for dissolution of marriage that simply states that the marriage is irretrievably broken, which means that there is no chance of reconciliation.
A petition for dissolution of marriage must be filed in the county where the intact marriage last existed. Florida requires that a party reside in the State of Florida for at least six months before a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed.
Divorce cases usually require the resolution of issues such as equitable distribution of assets and liabilities (allocation of property and debts to each spouse) a parenting plan, which includes a time sharing or visitation schedule, parental responsibility, spousal and child support, and attorney’s fees and costs. In distributing assets or property to each spouse, the court will consider, among other factors, each party’s contribution to the marriage, the economic circumstances of each party, the duration of the marriage and the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement and improvement of both, marital and non-marital. The desirability of retaining a marital home as a residence for minor children and the intentional dissipation of marital assets by a spouse within two years prior to the date of filing or after the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage are also factors that will be considered. In divorce cases where complex issues of equitable distribution exist, it may be necessary to hire experts such as forensic accountants, tax experts and/or experts in business valuations, in order to ascertain the correct value of the marital estate and propose an equitable distribution scheme.
In divorce cases where a claim for alimony or child support exists, it may be necessary to hire a vocational expert in order to ascertain a spouse’s employ ability and earning capacity.
In the context of dissolution of marriage and paternity cases, the term custody has been abolished by Florida law, and replaced by the concepts of time-sharing and parental responsibility.
Parents have a right to share time with their children and to participate in all major decisions that affect the welfare of their children. The parties may agree regarding some or all parenting issues and the same may be included in a Parenting Plan. A divorce decree will either incorporate the parties’ agreement regarding these issues or indicate the judge’s ruling regarding these issues, if the parties were unable to settle.