Where To File Your Florida Military Divorce
When in the military, filing for divorce takes on new dimensions that civilians need not contend with, not least of all the time and place where one must file the action. In Florida, the place in particular can be important for a variety of reasons. Active duty military personnel are constantly on the move in a way that civilians are not, and as such, being aware of jurisdiction and other location-based issues matters even more than it normally would in their cases.
Jurisdiction Over Divorce Issues
Every U.S. state has laws governing what is called jurisdiction, which is the ability of a court to hear a certain case. Jurisdiction matters because each state is generally tasked with hearing the cases affecting the people who live and work in that state – allowing anyone to simply file in a state where they have no connections would be inefficient at best, easily exploitable at worst. Thus, if you live in Florida (and have done long enough to comply with the residency requirements), or you work in Florida, or the interaction that is the subject of your suit occurred in Florida, you may generally file your suit there.
Military service members may sometimes have difficulty meeting these standards. Florida residency requirements state that at least one spouse must have resided in the state for 6 months before the petition for dissolution of marriage can be avoided. If you and your spouse have recently moved to Florida, and decide to divorce, you must wait until at least one of you have been resident for those 6 months before filing. It is important to note, however, that if you (if a military service member) or your military spouse are actively deployed or stationed elsewhere, it does not count as a change of residency.
Pros & Cons
While often, a couple must wait to file so they can conform to Florida law, the opposite scenario also occurs: a couple living in Florida who may not want to divorce under Florida law. It is important to remember that just because you live in the state does not necessarily mean that you must file your divorce there. Florida is often seen as an advantageous state in which to file if one or both of you are active military, because there is no required separation period, and in fact, the law governing divorce is quite simple – if your filing states either that one spouse has been significantly mentally ill for at least 3 years, or that “the marriage is irretrievably broken,” your divorce will likely be granted.
That said, this is not guaranteed. You must be able to substantiate your allegations, and you must also be sure that there is no other state where jurisdiction might be more appropriate. For example, if you were married in Florida but have lived and paid taxes in Georgia for years, jurisdiction might be easier to verify in Georgia. There is a certain amount of personal choice involved, but ultimately, if a court thinks you do not have enough contacts with the state of Florida, you will likely be advised to file elsewhere.
Enlist The Help Of A Knowledgeable Attorney
Divorce is a big undertaking, and especially when you have military-related issues to contend with, it can be a big help to have someone knowledgeable and experienced on your side. The Law Firm of Steven A. Mason, P.A. has handled many military divorces, and our attorneys are happy to put that experience to work for you. Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.