Can You Get Divorced In Florida?

Every now and then we’ll have someone call us asking about handling their Florida divorce.  When we ask where they live, they’ll tell us Georgia or someplace other than Florida.  Okay, we think, what about the spouse?  Is she currently living in Florida?  Negative.  She’s in Ohio.  Sorry, we tell him, at least one of you must be a current Florida resident for no less than 6 months at the time we file your petition for dissolution of marriage or the court will be without subject matter jurisdiction, i.e.  the power to divorce you.  Any order or judgment entered without subject matter jurisdiction is void ab initio, meaning worthless and without legal authority.  Void from its inception.  You would not be divorced even though you had a final judgment of dissolution of marriage that says you are.

“No problem”, he says, “I have a Florida driver license”.  No, that is not the correct answer.  The correct answer is that your residence is Georgia.  Your wife’s residence is Ohio.  Neither of you is currently residing in Florida and neither of you has been residing continuously here for the last 6 months.  Any divorce case filed now here in Florida would be without jurisdiction and any judgment of dissolution of marriage would be VOID.

There is an exception, as usually is the case in the law.  An active United States military member whose home state of record is Florida, who considers Florida his residence but who is living outside of Florida on account of duty station or deployment, continues to be a Florida resident if his intention is to return to Florida upon completion of his military service.  This service member could establish the court’s 6 month residence requirement in the event his spouse did not.

Only one spouse must qualify in order for a Florida court to exercise its subject matter jurisdiction to enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage, not both.

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