As a divorce lawyer, I know that filing for divorce is an emotional and challenging process for any couple. When minor children are involved, the issues associated with divorce are even more sensitive and complicated. Parties may not get the quick dissolution they seek.
Process of Filing for Divorce In Florida
In general, the couple can file for divorce or a dissolution of marriage in Florida as long as one of the parties to the marriage resides in the state for 6 months prior to filing a divorce petition. The divorce petition can be filed in the circuit court where either party resides. If both parties reside in Orlando, Kissimmee, then the petition would be filed in Osceola or Orange County.
However, a dissolution of marriage (or a divorce) can only be granted by the court if one of two grounds exist: (1) the marriage is irretrievably broken; or (2) one of the parties has been mentally incapacitated for at least three years.
Related article: The Basics of Filing for Divorce in Florida
In addition, pursuant to Florida Statutes, final judgment of the divorce petition or dissolution may not be granted until at least 20 days have elapsed from the date of the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage. However, there is an exception that if a party shows that an injustice would result from this 20 day delay, the court my enter a final judgment to end the marriage earlier than the 20 days from filing. Florida Statutes 61.021, 61.043, and 61.19.
Filing For Divorce In Florida When Minor Children Are Involved
When minor children are involved, rather than granting the divorce petition, the court may continue the action for a maximum of 3 months to enable the parties to reconcile or take other actions in the best interest of the children.
For example, the court may order counseling in the best interest of both the parties and children, but is not required to do so. Many times, a party may contest the counseling claiming that the parties cannot reconcile. Courts will not order counseling if a party is opposed to it and presents evidence to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken beyond repair. In such a situation, a Florida court must grant the divorce and dissolve the marriage even if a judge attempts to effectuate a reconciliation. Nelms v. Nelms, 285 So.2d 50 (Fla. 4th DCA 1973).
It is important to note however, that the court sometimes may still order counseling even if a party is firmly opposed to it because it may be beneficial for the parties to learn how to deal with each other after the divorce and for the sake of the children.