Though getting a divorce in Florida may seem attractive as it is a no- fault state, not everyone can get divorced in the Sunshine State. The constant increase of binational marriages raises more than ever the question of courts’ jurisdiction and the effect of a Floridian divorce on this type of marriages.
WHO CAN DIVORCE IN FLORIDA?
Despite what lots of people wrongly believe, the simple fact you got married in Florida or you were born there does not determine Florida courts’ jurisdiction in family law matters. Pursuant to Florida Statues (FL 61.021), in cases of dissolution of marriage Florida courts are competent only if at least one of the spouses can demonstrate six months of residence in the State prior at the time of the petition. In the case of a binational marriage of course, the alien spouse might want to look at the jurisdiction of their own Country.
European citizens will refer to the European Regulation n°2201/2003 also called “Brussels II bis” providing a broader competence to European courts based on either the child’s or the spouses’ last place of residence, their nationality or even their choice when both spouses agree on a court’s jurisdiction.
When several courts have jurisdiction, the first petition filed will determine where the divorce will be granted. So you might want to be quick. However, court jurisdiction does not necessarily determine the law applicable to your divorce.
WHAT LAW IS APPLICABLE IN FLORIDA?
If the divorce petition is filed in Florida, the court will most likely apply the Floridian rules. However, the Statutes do not exclude the possibility of applying the rules of another state or country, as long as it does not “contravenes the strong public policy” of the State. Alien petitioner must bear in mind that these rules include case laws and not only the state statutes and regulations. As an example, though Florida is no-fault divorce state, the fault might still have financial consequences for the spouses.