Getting a divorce in Florida may seem attractive as it is a no- fault state. However, not everyone falls into the Sunshine State’s jurisdiction. The increase of bi-national couples raises the question of jurisdiction for dissolution of marriage. A “no-fault divorce” is one in which neither spouse is required to prove “fault” or marital misconduct on the part of the other.
Who can divorce in Florida?
A Florida marriage decree or birth certificate does not imply Florida courts’ jurisdiction. In cases of dissolution of marriage, FL courts can rule only if at least one of the spouses can demonstrate six months of residence here prior to the petition. (FL 61.021) In the case of a bi-national marriage, 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.” These provide 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 petition filed first usually determines where the divorce will be granted. However, court jurisdiction does not necessarily determine the law applicable to your divorce.
What law is applicable in Florida?
If you file the divorce petition in Florida, the court will most likely apply the Floridian rules. However, the Statutes allow the application of rules from another state or country, as long as they don’t “contravene the strong public policy” of the State. The couple must bear in mind that these rules include case laws, not just 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.
Read more about types of divorce in Florida here.
If you have questions about petitioning for a dissolution of marriage please contact us. Our experienced attorneys can help relieve some of the stress from your divorce by counseling you on complex matters such as division of assets and child custody.