If you’re seeking a divorce in the state of Florida, the length of your marriage has an impact on the process and outcome of your divorce proceedings.
In the majority of cases, divorce is an emotionally devastating life event. The breakup of a marriage can cause a number of issues, including battles over property, child custody and alimony. Regardless of the length of time you’ve been married, divorce is never an easy choice to make.
Unfortunately, it’s often a necessary one.
And for people who have little understanding of Florida divorce law, it can also be frightening and intimidating.
The more research you do before filing for your divorce, the better equipped you’ll be to find the right lawyer and make the right choices for your future.
Laura Spencer Coleman is a trusted Florida divorce lawyer with nearly 20 years of family law experience. She is passionate about helping Florida residents navigate the legal intricacies of divorce so they can move on with their lives.
Today, we’re examining one of the most important factors influencing Florida divorce: the length of your marriage.
Short-Term Marriages + Divorce
In Florida, a short-term marriage is one that lasts for fewer than 7 years.
This information may affect your divorce in a couple of ways.
Firstly, alimony for short-term marriages is less likely to be awarded. This is because the court assumes that a person leaving a short-term marriage will have less trouble readjusting to life as a single person.
According to Florida law, the court considers several factors when determining an alimony award:
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The financial resources of each party
- The age and physical and emotional state of each party
- The duration of the marriage
- The earning capacity and employability of each party
- The contribution of each party to the marriage, including services of child rearing, homemaking, and contribution to the education or career of the other party
- The responsibilities of each party towards providing care for minor children
If your marriage lasted for seven years or less, you are unlikely to be awarded long-term spousal support. However, you may be awarded temporary spousal support with a strong demonstration of need.
Secondly, property may be divided differently for short-term marriages, with less complex division stipulations. In these situations, courts are more likely to award even distribution of marital property, especially if both spouses earned money throughout the marriage.
Some couples in short-term marriages want to expedite the process of divorce. This procedure is called a simplified dissolution of marriage.
A simplified dissolution of marriage (uncontested divorce) is a procedure that allows couples to obtain a divorce in a relatively short time period. However, this divorce petition is only obtainable for couples with no minor children, no expectation of alimony, and no property disputes.
Both parties must agree to property division and at least one party must have lived in the state of Florida for six months prior.
Download the form for Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in Florida
Moderate-Term Marriage + Divorce
In Florida, a moderate-term marriage is one that lasts between 7-17 years. Dissolution of marriage at this level often has more complicated legal features than a short-term marriage dissolution.
Alimony–if not agreed upon by the divorcing parties beforehand–may be awarded by the court upon review of each party’s financial situation, employment status and employability.
Long-Term Marriages + Divorce
In Florida, a long-term marriage is one that lasts longer than 17 years.
Couples who have been married for 17 years or more often have complex financial entanglements and property holdings. Additionally, spouses in a long-term marriage are accustomed to a certain standard of living. Divorce often significantly alters that standard of living for one of the spouses. For instance, a divorce can be financially devastating for individuals who postponed a career to care for children or to be a homemaker. For this reason, alimony of any kind is more likely to be awarded in the dissolution of a long-term marriage in Florida.
Bridge-the-gap alimony may be awarded to one spouse to help him or her adjust to life as a single person following a divorce. This type of alimony is designed to address specific short-term necessities and does not exceed a time period of two years.
Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to a spouse who needs help in building the skills and credentials needed to be employable following a divorce. In order to receive this type of alimony, an individual must have a specific and detailed plan for acquiring skills, training or certification.
Durational alimony is designed to provide a dependent spouse with financial support for a set period of time after a divorce.
Permanent periodic alimony is typically awarded only to spouses in the dissolution of long-term marriages. Spouses who may receive this type of alimony lack the ability to provide for themselves financially to the standard that was set during the marriage. Permanent alimony ends when either spouse dies or when the spouse receiving the alimony remarries or cohabits with a supportive partner for a significant period of time.
Download forms for dissolution of marriage in Florida here.
Preparing for Your Florida Divorce
Regardless of the length of your marriage, you need a reliable, compassionate divorce lawyer to fight for your interests in court.
Laura Spencer Coleman has been navigating long-term, short-term and moderate-term marriage dissolution for Florida Panhandle residents for nearly 20 years.
Contact the law office of Laura Spencer Coleman to schedule a consultation today.