How to Determine What County You Need to File for Divorce in Florida
By Beverly Bird
Having too many options can sometimes complicate matters and this is particularly true when you're trying to determine in which Florida county you should file for divorce. Under Florida law, you can file in any county you like, but your spouse must consent. There are some practical considerations to keep in mind and some Florida counties are slightly more divorce-friendly than others.
States have jurisdiction over spouses and counties have venue, meaning judges in that county are the only ones who can rule on your divorce. Florida's Rules of Civil Procedure are silent regarding venue -- they don't state specifically where you have to file. Technically, you should file in the county where you and your spouse lived when you decided to end your marriage, but you can opt not to. For example, you and your spouse may have last lived together in Florida's Panhandle region, but you relocated to Miami-Dade County when you broke up. If the court overseeing your divorce is hundreds of miles from your new home, that could be problematic. Thus, you have the option of filing in Miami-Dade County instead, or any other county.
Objections to Venue
If you're the spouse who files for divorce, you have the right to choose the county of venue. After you file, your divorce will proceed in that county, unless your spouse objects. He must file a motion with the court to do this, arguing a different county court should preside over your divorce. Alternatively, he can answer your divorce petition and object to your choice of venue in his answer. He's got the burden of proof to convince a judge that your divorce proceedings should move to a different county. If your spouse does nothing, the law assumes he's waived his right to object.
When you choose a county for divorce, convenience is obviously a factor. You wouldn't want to drive countless miles every time you have to appear at the courthouse. But other considerations exist as well. For example, if you have children, Florida requires you to attend a parenting class before the court will grant your divorce. You can do this online in most Florida counties, simplifying the requirement. However, in Duval County, you have to attend the class in person. If you live in Duval County, you might want to file for divorce in a neighboring county to take advantage of the online program.
State Residency Requirements
Regardless of what county you choose, the state of Florida must also have jurisdiction over your divorce. Florida acquires jurisdiction after either you or your spouse have lived there for six months. It doesn't matter if you were married elsewhere and one of you moved to Florida after you broke up. If one spouse stays behind in another state and the other spouse establishes a six-month residency in Florida, you can file for divorce there. In this case, you obviously wouldn't file in the county where you last lived together because it's not in the state.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.