Can a Person Get a Divorce in Florida Without the Consent of the Other Party?

By A.M. Hill

In Florida, a divorcing couple is not required to prove fault to end their marriage. One side need only allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Sometimes, though, the opposing party does not agree that the marriage is broken and decides to contest the divorce action. In these cases, the court might order marriage counseling or delay the case to give the parties a cooling-off period to discuss whether to proceed with the divorce.

Florida Is a No-Fault Divorce State

Florida is strictly a no-fault divorce state, which means that neither party needs to prove the other side engaged in wrongdoing. Divorce filings in Florida are accepted under one of two grounds -- that a judge declared one spouse mentally incapacitated at least three years before the filing or that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the other spouse denies the marriage is broken, he can file an answer contesting the divorce.

Opportunity for Marriage Counseling

If the answering spouse contests the divorce, a Florida judge can order either or both sides to participate in marriage counseling. The judge has the authority to require the couple to see a psychologist, psychiatrist or a member of the clergy acceptable to the parties. Under Florida law, the judge can also delay the case for up to three months to give the spouses time to reconsider the divorce.

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When Children Are Involved

Florida law also gives the judge discretion to order marriage counseling when the divorcing couple has minor children. If one party truly does not want the divorce but would like the court to decide child support issues, he can file a petition with the court. Ultimately, the court cannot force someone to stay married. If counseling fails and delaying the case does not bring about reconciliation, the divorce will proceed.

Contesting the Terms of the Divorce

The answering spouse might also contest the terms of the divorce. While Florida is a no-fault state, a contesting party can still disagree with the terms of the divorce based on the other side's actions during the marriage. If one party committed wrongdoing, it can affect the way the court distributes marital property. Contesting the terms might affect the outcome of the case, but it will not stop the divorce from being granted.

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What If Only One Person Wants a Divorce?

References

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