Where Do I File for Divorce in Florida?
When you are considering a divorce in Florida, one of the first decisions you will need to make is where to file. After all, filing for a divorce in the wrong place could waste your money and create unnecessary delays. In some situations, even the slightest delay or misstep could cause serious consequences. This is why it is often a good idea to first check with a Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer to make sure you are following all the right steps from the very start.
Understanding Jurisdiction in Florida Family Courts
First, before you file for divorce, you must make sure that you are eligible to get divorced in the state. Under Fla. Stat. 61.021, one of the parties must have been a resident of Florida for at least six months prior to initiating a divorce action.
Next, you will want to consider the following:
- If there are children, where have they lived for the majority of their childhood?
- Where do each of you reside?
- Is there a strong connection to another state?
- Has either party recently relocated to Florida?
What is Venue, and Where is Venue Proper?
Venue is, to put it simply, the courthouse where you file your divorce petition. Think of the venue as the proper location or county in which to proceed. If both individuals live in the same county, then it is simple – that county will be the proper venue for filing your divorce action. Under Florida law, it is ok to file for divorce in the county where either party resides. However, beware, if you both shared a marital residence in one county and you recently left the county in hopes of filing elsewhere, your spouse could argue for the case to be transferred back to the county of the marital residence. Therefore, it is generally best to choose the county with the greatest connection to the marriage.
Divorces without children are generally less complicated because relocation is less complicated. After a divorce, most people just want to move on with their lives and reestablish themselves. But when children are involved, this is more difficult to do. Whoever will have primary custody of the children will be restricted from moving too far away. Courts do not allow a parent to alienate or distance the children from the other spouse without a good reason.
So, if you are still married and have children, and your spouse has removed the children from the area in hopes of getting a divorce in another county, region, or even another state, you will want to take action quickly and file in your own county. Then, with the help of an experienced family law attorney, you will want to ask the court to order your spouse to return the child. This can be a contentious and difficult legal matter to handle, so you will want to consult with an attorney sooner rather than later.
If you need experienced and compassionate assistance with a complex family court matter in Fort Lauderdale, call The Sejour-Gustave Law Firm, PLLC today, or learn more by visiting the firm online.