Grounds For Divorce in Florida
What are the grounds for Divorce in the state of Florida? In the movies people always have a
reason for divorce such as adultery or abandonment. Florida used to have grounds like thes
before 1971 that needed to be proven before a divorce would be allowed under Florida law.
Grounds were subsequently eliminated by the “no-fault” statute which was passed in 1971.
Most of states in the United States have a similar statute for “no fault divorce.” No fault
divorce just means you don’t need some event like an affair or a physical fight in order your
right to divorce and be proven before a divorce will be granted.
Under the statute as it’s written today, there are only two grounds needed to justify a Florida
divorce. Those grounds are (1) the marriage is irretrievably broken or 2) one of the parties has
been mentally incapacitated for at least three years.
In addition to one of these two grounds, the petition for a dissolution of marriage must also
allege that one of the spouses has had a Florida residency for at least six months prior to the
filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage. Additionally, to file in a particular county in,
Florida, one of the spouses must live in that county.
The most common ground to establish the right to divorce in Florida is that the marriage is
“irretrievably broken” What exactly is the standard for a marriage to be “irretrievably broken?”
Irretrievably broken means almost whatever you want it to mean. A party to a divorce can
simply say, “My marriage is irretrievably broke” In front of a judge while proving up the divorce
at the hearing on final judgment.
Because this ground for divorce is so simple and without verification, almost no one use the
other available grounds that one of the parties has been mentally incapacitated for at least
The Florida residency prerequisite is usually the more difficult matter to prove. A driver’s
license, an identification card, or voter registration can adequately prove residency. Without
one of these official documents a notarized affidavit is necessary to prove residency. Because
Florida has a lot of part-time residents the divorce courts are sticklers about this requirement.
While these grounds may seem like stumbling blocks in the way of a Florida divorce, it is your
right to get a divorce in Florida. “If, at any time, the court finds that the marriage is irretrievably
broken, the court shall enter a judgment of dissolution of the marriage.” Fla. Stat. Sec.
Adultery, cruelty, violence, abandonment or abuse certainly effect a divorce but under Florida
law they are simply not necessary in order to ask the divorce court for a dissolution of your
Issues that led to your divorce like adultery or abuse may be brought up to resolve other
matters relating to your divorce such as distribution of marital assets or allocation of parenting
time. Divorce judges understand that divorces do not happen in a vacuum and will consider
your history when making final rulings in your case.
The author, Russell Knight, is a divorce lawyer in Naples, Florida.