Florida Family Law FAQs
See below for answers to some of the questions we hear most often at Cortes Hodz Family Law & Mediation, P.A. as we help people in Tampa and neighboring communities with divorce and other family law situations. For answers to your other questions or immediate help with a divorce or other family law issue in Hillsborough, Pinellas or Pasco County, call Cortes Hodz Family Law & Mediation, P.A. at 813-514-0909 for a free consultation on your Florida family law matter.
Q. Is adultery a ground for divorce in Florida?
A. Florida has done away with all fault-based grounds for divorce. The only grounds for divorce in Florida today are that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, or one of the spouses has been adjudicated as mentally incapacitated for the previous three years. Adultery may indeed lead to the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, but the fact of adultery does not have to be proven to obtain a divorce in Florida. However, Florida law does allow the court the consider adultery of either spouse when determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded.
Q. How long does it take to get divorced in Florida?
A. The soonest a divorce can be finalized is 20 days from the filing of a petition for a simplified dissolution of marriage, but this process is only available in limited circumstances. If the divorce is uncontested, the process can be accomplished in about the same amount of time, depending on how quickly you and your spouse can work up a marital settlement agreement concerning matters such as the property division, child custody, child support and alimony. If the divorce is contested, the process may take a few months as the parties go through litigation and discovery or work out their differences through mediation or collaborative divorce. If the divorce goes to trial, the entire process may take a year or more due to the requirement of getting a trial date on the court’s busy calendar.
Q. Do I have to go to court to get divorced?
A. If your divorce is contested and a trial is necessary, then you will need to go court and participate in the trial. If the divorce is uncontested, there won’t be any trial, but you will still need to appear in court with a copy of the Final Decree for the judge to sign. The judge may review your paperwork and may or may not ask you a few questions about it. We’ll fully prepare you for what to expect if and when you appear in court.
Q. What if my spouse controls all the finances and I can’t afford to get divorced on my own?
A. The judge will make temporary orders as soon as the divorce is filed that require maintenance of the status quo in the marriage finances while the divorce is pending. This means that both spouses can continue to access joint bank accounts and credit cards. Your spouse can be prevented from closing accounts or freezing you out from access. The court can also order that neither party make any major purchases or sell valuable assets during this time, to assure access to home and car and ensure an equitable distribution of property. You can also ask the court for temporary orders regarding child support, spousal support and access to the family residence during the divorce.
Q. Can I get an annulment instead of a divorce?
A. An annulment is a dissolution of a marriage that was invalid from the start, so it is only available in a limited number of instances. For instance, marriages involving bigamy or incest are void and can be annulled. Other grounds for annulment include marriage to an underage individual who did not have parental consent, marriage performed under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or being tricked into marriage. These marriages are voidable, meaning they can be annulled, or they can be made valid by consummating the marriage or agreeing to stay married.
Even if you can get your marriage annulled, you may still need to follow the divorce process to divide marital property or determine timesharing. Call our office to discuss your options.