Florida Statute 61.021 requires you to be a resident of the state for at least six months before filing the paperwork to end your marriage. If this requirement isn’t met, no state court can review your case as it wouldn’t have the legal power to make decisions pertaining to it.
Note that divorce requirements in Florida are not limited to residency. You need to choose specific grounds to file your case on and follow the proper court process if you plan to represent yourself or have a lawyer consult you on the matter.
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Florida Residency Requirements for Filing a Divorce
To meet the state of Florida residency requirements, one of the spouses needs to have been a resident of the state for at least six months. Under Florida divorce laws, you can get divorced in the state even if you weren’t married there, and it does not play a role in initiating the process. As long as you’re a resident, you are free to file.
The Florida residency requirements of 6 months are only applicable to those individuals who live in the state full-time or plan to settle. If you were on vacation in the state, even for a long time, or have a house that you stay in during holidays, it doesn’t mean that you can file there. However, according to the state of Florida divorce laws, if you traveled out of state during those 6 months, you can still file there as this time counts towards your residency.
Residency Requirements in Counties
While there are no specific timelines for county residency, you have to live in a particular county to be considered its resident. Besides, you will have to file in the county where either you or your spouse live. If you reside in different counties, it might be suitable to file in the county where you last lived as a married couple. The court has an option of transferring the case to that county, so you may as well file there to save time.
Proving Residency in Florida
It is not enough just to be a resident – you must also provide a court with proof, even if you have lived in the state for your whole life. According to Statute 61.052 (2) outlining Florida divorce requirements, you can prove your residence by providing:
- A valid ID card.
- A voter’s registration card.
- A driver’s license.
- An affidavit or testimony from a third party.
There are other ways to prove your residency in the state. For example, you can tell the judge what makes you a Florida resident:
- Stable employment in Florida.
- Real estate or an active lease.
- Membership in a social organization or a church.
- Proof of filing taxes in the state.
- Use of the local address for personal and official purposes.
If these options are not suitable in your case, there might be others that you can use. However, it would be necessary to consult an attorney on the matter.
What are the Options if You Do Not Meet the Residency Requirement?
If you realize that you do not meet the Florida residency requirement at the moment, there are three main options to choose from:
- Wait until you hit the 6-month mark.
You can use this time to settle any disputes with your spouse, as it will significantly simplify the marriage dissolution process and make it cheaper. There will also be enough time to find and fill out all the legal documents you need to divorce in the state of Florida.
- Ask your spouse to file.
If your spouse meets the residency requirement of the state, but you do not, you can ask them to file. In this case, the divorce paperwork needs to reflect that your spouse is a petitioner and be filled out from their perspective.
- File in another state.
Even if you were married in Florida, divorce in another state is still an option. You or your spouse can file in the state where you currently meet the residency requirements. If you have children, it is advisable to initiate the case in their home state.
Divorce in Florida When Spouse is out of State
You can still get a divorce in Florida if your spouse doesn’t live there. However, there might be complications related to jurisdiction, especially if you have children, are planning to divide property, or are asking for alimony.
The court will be able to make and enforce decisions related to these matters only after establishing personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state spouse. It may not be as hard to do if you lived in Florida together as a married couple or if your children still live there. Alternatively, your spouse may agree to the court’s jurisdiction over your case.
Note that a court can still finalize your marriage dissolution without making any decisions related to children, assets, and finances. As long as you are a Florida resident, this option will be available to you.