Fort Lauderdale No-Fault Divorce Lawyer
Assisting Broward County residents with no-fault divorces
Historically, divorce required one spouse to allege a reason for divorce and prove that the other spouse was at fault. While acceptable reasons varied from state to state, adultery, incapacity, and abandonment were, typically, acceptable reasons for divorce. However, proving grounds was often very difficult, requiring the couple to disclose intimate marital relations in a public courtroom and often resulting in a trial on character and integrity. This was burdensome on the courts and extremely expensive for all parties involved. Therefore, some states, including Florida, adopted a no-fault divorce process. With more than 15 years of experience in handling the conflicts involved with dissolution of marriage, our Fort Lauderdale no-fault divorce lawyer efficiently helps you through the no-fault divorce process to provide closure for your family.
What is a no-fault state?
In a no-fault dissolution of marriage state such as Florida, you do not have to show, and prove, a reason for the divorce. When filing for a divorce in Florida, you can request a divorce from the court by simply stating one of the following:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken.
- Your spouse has a mental incapacity.
If you state that your marriage is irretrievably broken, your spouse has the opportunity to affirm or deny. If your spouse affirms, then the simple dissolution of marriage process is available. Simple dissolution is generally fast and is often resolved in a marriage settlement agreement (MSA) prior to going to court. While the court has the discretion to accept or reject the plan, most MSAs are accepted provided that they are fair and equitable.
If your spouse contests, stating that your marriage is not irretrievably broken, or if dependent children are involved, then you face a more lengthy contested divorce process. When your divorce is contested, a court typically orders a maximum three-month continuance to allow time for reconciliation. The court can also order marriage counseling and anything else necessary to protect the parties and children, including spousal support, child support and other relief. If, at the end of the continuance, the marriage is still irretrievably broken, a court can then approve the dissolution of marriage.
There are also specific requirements if you want to gain a divorce based on the mental incapacity of your spouse. For example, a court must have already deemed your spouse to be legally incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions. Having someone declared mentally incapacitated is a huge step and can significantly affect their legal rights. However, remaining married to a mentally incapacitated person can be extremely difficult and limiting so, in many cases, such a legal finding may be necessary. Your spouse must have remained mentally incapacitated for at least three years prior to filing for divorce in order for the court to grant the dissolution for this reason. Because divorces based on mental incapacity are relatively rare and have specific requirements, you should always have a divorce lawyer handling your case who has experience with mental incapacity-based divorce cases.
What is needed to file a no-fault divorce in Florida?
To use the dissolution of marriage process in Florida, you must be a resident. You can prove your residency by providing:
- Evidence that you have lived in Florida for the last six months
- A valid Florida drivers license
- A voter registration card
- A Florida identification card
- Testimony of a third party
Once your Florida residency has been established, the court grants you a no-fault divorce.
You or your spouse must file a properly prepared petition with the court and must wait at least 20 days from the time of filing. However, many divorces take significantly longer as you must resolve many different issues including child custody, division of property, spousal or child support, among many others.
How adultery affects the terms of a no-fault divorce
In some cases, wrongdoing by your spouse can affect child custody, property division and spousal support. However, it does not affect the divorce itself since the only grounds for divorce in Florida are an irretrievably broken marriage and mental incapacity. For child custody, “moral fitness” is a factor to be considered in the custody determination. If the adultery can be shown to affect the children negatively, custody or visitation could be limited. If your spouse redirected marital assets through cash payments, gifts, trips, cars, real estate or other items of value to his or her nonmarital partner, the court may reduce your spouse’s share to reach an equitable distribution. Lastly, while Florida law lists adultery as a spousal support factor, courts have been slow to embrace it because they have struggled with reconciling fault-based alimony with no-fault divorce. In addition to adultery, other instances of wrongful or questionable behavior can be called to the court’s attention in support of a favorable custody or support determination.
How our Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Can Help with a No-fault divorce
Proving fault in a divorce used to require evidence of wrongdoing, which could mean that very personal issues were discussed in open court. The process also involved a significant amount of time, money, and complex court procedures. While you are no longer required to prove fault on the part of your spouse, there are still many issues that may lead to a costly court battle.
A skilled Fort Lauderdale divorce can help make the no-fault divorce process as smooth and simple as possible in many ways. First, your attorney can make sure that all legal requirements, such as residency, are met so there are no inherent obstacles to the divorce. If your spouse contests that your marriage is irretrievably broken, your attorney will help you decide the next step and can work to ensure you and your children are properly supported if the court implements a waiting period for possible reconciliation.
If your divorce does proceed, there will be many issues to settle outside the question of fault. No-fault divorces can still be very complicated if you and your spouse cannot agree on certain matters. A few ways a lawyer can assist you include the following:
- Exploring the idea of collaborative divorce to keep the matter out of court;
- Engage in mediation to resolve disputes with your spouse on your own terms without court intervention;
- Represent your interests in court if necessary, including presenting evidence in support of your wishes and challenging evidence presented by your spouse against your favor.
Even no-fault divorces can have many complications and hurdles and you should have an experienced divorce lawyer by your side every step of the way.
Contact our Fort Lauderdale no-fault divorce lawyer today
Before filing for divorce in Florida, you should consult an experienced Fort Lauderdale no-fault divorce attorney to hear all of your options. Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC is close to Broward Hospital, north of Davie Boulevard, and just three blocks from the county courthouse. We serve Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. For your free no-fault divorce consultation, call us today at 954.817.0402 or contact us online. Our office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with Saturday appointments available upon request.