Florida is a No Fault Divorce State
It is a daily occurrence in many family law attorney offices across Central Florida. A client walks in for a consultation, woman or man (gender is irrelevant), and starts the dialogue with a harsh and ostensibly disappointing accusation, “My spouse has been cheating on me.” This is followed by a demand for a divorce from the partner engaging in what the client spouse claims is illicit and inappropriate or immoral behavior. In my law practice, it is common that clients are unaware that Florida is a no fault divorce state. Informing clients that have been emotionally hurt of this fact is difficult, but necessary. No fault divorce in Florida means that obtaining a divorce is less complicated, provided there are no minor children to the relationship, and the party at fault has not exposed the kids to behaviors that are detrimental to their best interests. Divorces can potentially have layer upon layer of complex issues, and rarely if ever are two divorces alike.
What readers really want to know is because Florida is a no fault divorce state, how does or will that impact their dissolution of marriage case? No fault divorce in Florida means that one or both parties need only tell the court their marriage is “irretrievably broken,” which is similar to what other jurisdictions phrase as irreconcilable differences. Irretrievably broken is the standard. One does not need to prove adultery. A spouse might strongly dislike the other spouse’s neck ties, dresses, shoes, breath, eyebrows, personality, television habits, over-cleanliness or lack of cleanliness. The list of potential reasons is endless. The point is that this is a low standard that can only be rebutted upon a rare showing (rarely granted by the court) that marriage counseling for 90 days would somehow take away the problems in a deeply troubled marriage.
No Fault Divorce in Florida
Florida is a no fault divorce state for many reasons; one primary culturally relativistic reason is that our population is one of the most diverse in the entire nation, and value systems are often different. Another reason there is no fault divorce in Florida is a reduction in compelling the parties to bring their private lives into the public purview. By not forcing litigants to divulge their dirty laundry, the State of Florida allows family law litigants a measure of privacy and personal relief. It is not the job of the Florida family law court to assign blame as pertains to dissolution of marriage. If the reasons for the divorce (gambling, bankruptcy, child abuse, substance abuse, domestic abuse) are more serious than simply falling out of love and seeking greener pastures, and if there are minor children born to the marriage, then the parties are welcome to present testimony about parental fitness. If the parties have no minor children, or if there already is a parenting plan in place, the fact that Florida is a no fault divorce state may preclude any significant probing into the personal lives of the parties.