Are you considering getting divorced and wondering about your Florida divorce eligibility? In this blog, we will walk you through the requirements that need to be met in order to get a divorce in the Sunshine State.
Residency exists upon showing that: (1) a spouse intended to make Florida his/her actual permanent residence; and (2) the spouse engaged in conduct fulfilling that intent. These two prongs must exist concurrently.
First Prong—Intent to make Florida one’s actual permanent residence:
A spouse satisfies the first prong by showing a bona fide intent to make Florida their permanent residence for the 6 months prior to filing. An intent to reside in Florida at some future time is not enough.
The spouse’s intent must have been to maintain a physical place of residence in Florida during the six months. An intention to acquire such a residence in the future is not sufficient. Also, there must be an intent during the 6 months preceding the filing for divorce to continue residing in Florida indefinitely.
Second Prong—action towards making Florida one’s actual permanent residence:
The second prong requires a showing of affirmative acts that show the spouse’s desire to make Florida his/her permanent residence. The acts and the intent must occur at the same time.
The facts of each case are important to determining whether a residence exists. For instance, a 1955 Florida Supreme Court case stated that demonstrating residence usually involves presenting a variety of acts or declarations, which the particular case must weigh as evidence. See Bloomfield v. St. Petersburg Beach, 82 So. 2d 364, 369 (Fla. 1955).
While the spouse claiming residency doesn’t need to be physically present in the state for the full six months, they must provide other evidence that objectively shows their intention to reside in Florida. The intent is key.
Such evidence usually includes proof that the individual spouse or the parties maintained a physical home in Florida during the six-month period.
What if I live in Florida for 6 months just to divorce? Would that qualify me as a resident?
No. Evidence that a spouse has lived in Florida for the required 6 month period will not establish residency if their sole purpose for living in Florida was to initiate a dissolution action in the state.
A court may find that a spouse’s sole purpose for being present in Florida is to establish residency for jurisdiction purposes if the spouse is unable to produce evidence that corroborates his or her testimony regarding the length and purpose of residency, and if other evidence indicates that the spouse has a special interest in petitioning for dissolution, such as a relationship with a third person.
What if you have a vacation home in Florida?
The presence of a vacation or temporary home in Florida can’t establish the residency requirement.
But, coupling a vacation with other actions that demonstrate an intention to make Florida your permanent residence might be enough to prove Florida residency. For example, in a First District Court of Appeals case, a spouse’s presence in the parties’ Florida beach house several times a month during the year preceding filing was sufficient to show residency, when: (1) his occasional visits during that year to the county where the beach house was located; (2) his continuous presence in Florida for 30 days before the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage; and (3) his other acts indicating intent to reside in Florida.
Conclusion & Additional Resources
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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