Florida Family & Marital Law Attorney: Marck Joseph, Esq.

June 27, 2023

In the State of Florida, Family and Marital Law refers to the legal issues, matters, and proceedings that typically surround familial relationships. Particularly, those matters related to marriage, divorce, child custody, and support. The State of Florida has very specific regulations and laws on marriage, divorce, child support, time sharing, equitable distribution of assets, and other familial and relationship matters, including specific requirements in terms of age requirements, license requirements, and pre-marital processes in some cases. To learn more about the general aspects of Florida family law continue reading.

Divorce in Florida

The state has a no-fault divorce policy, which means that couples who have previously completed the requirements for a legally binding marriage and wo are thereafter experiencing irreconcilable differences may file for divorce without either party having to prove fault or wrongdoing on the part of the adverse spouse. Florida law requires that at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing for divorce. Divorce in Florida is regulated by Statute (legislative) and case law (judicial). The purpose of Florida Statute § 61 (chapter 61) is to, in part,

  • Preserve the integrity of marriage and to safeguard meaningful family relationships;
  • Promote the amicable settlement of disputes that arise between parties to a marriage; and
  • To mitigate the potential harm to the spouses and their children caused by the process of legal dissolution of marriage.

A married couple who is looking to dissolve their marriage (i.e. divorce), pursuant to a choice of law provision in a contract selecting the law of a foreign country, typically will not automatically be able to avail themselves of that foreign country’s divorce law(s) if a court finds that those foreign laws contravene the strong public policy of those in the State of Florida, or if they are just simply unjust or unreasonable. Any attempt to apply the law of a foreign country is void if it contravenes the strong public policy of those in the State of Florida, or if the foreign country’s law is unjust or unreasonable.

The person who wishes to initiate a divorce proceeding for the dissolution of his/her marriage does so by filing in the appropriate circuit court a Petition (that person is known as the “Petitioner”).  Moreover, a copy of the Petition together with a copy of a summons must be served upon the other party to the marriage in the same manner as service of papers in civil actions generally(unless the divorce processing is an uncontested divorce). When the Petitioner filing for dissolution of marriage, files the Petition he/she must also complete and file with the clerk of the circuit court an unsigned anonymous informational questionnaire.


1.      Are divorce proceedings in Florida expensive?

It depends on the facts of your case. For example, if a married couple is seeking the dissolution of their marriage and can agree on all aspects of their case, they can file an uncontested divorce petition. An uncontested divorce matter is typically less expensive and shorter in duration when compared to traditional contested divorce cases. This is because the parties typically agree to all aspects of their divorce and the issues involved in their specific case prior to filing the Petition. That means, typical expenses associated with serving the respondent, engaging in discovery, attending mediation and other court ordered conferences/ hearings for the purpose of resolving contested matters, are not typically necessary.

On the other hand, a contested divorce proceeding is much longer and more expensive depending on whether the parties are willing to collaborate in coming to in agreement or the issues are so hotly contested that there is no other option but to take the case to trial before the judge.

2.      Will the State of Florida provide me with a public defender to represent me in my divorce proceeding if I am served with a Petition for dissolution of marriage and cannot afford an attorney?

No. Unlike a criminal proceeding where individuals who cannot afford representation are afforded the assistance of a public defender, in the family court system the State of Florida does not provide a public defender to represent individuals who cannot afford legal representation during a divorce proceeding.

3.      When it comes to a divorce proceeding what do the courts determine to be “income”?

In a State of Florid divorce proceeding, “income” means any form of payment to an individual, regardless of source, including, but not limited to: wages, salary, commissions and bonuses, compensation as an independent contractor, worker’s compensation, disability benefits, annuity and retirement benefits, pensions, dividends, interest, royalties, trusts, and any other payments, made by any person, private entity, federal or state government, or any unit of local government.

4.      During a divorce proceeding, can a party request for payment of his/ her attorney’s fees in connection with expenses paid to his/her attorney for representation in a divorce proceeding?

Yes, but it depends! The court may from time to time, after considering the financial resources of both parties, order a party to pay a reasonable amount for attorney’s fees, suit money, and the cost to the other party of maintaining or defending a divorce case.

5.      Can an alreadydivorced individual, request attorney’s fees in connection with expenses paidto his/ her attorney for the purpose of representing them in an “enforcement”and/or “modification” proceeding or appeal?

Typically, yes but it depends on the facts of the situation! In those cases, in which an action is brought for enforcement and the court finds that the noncompliant party is without justification in the refusal to follow a court order, the court may not award attorney’s fees, suit money, and costs to the noncompliant party.

6.      What considerations does the court typically analyze in determining whether to make attorney’s fees and costs awards at the appellate level or Title IV-D cases?

In determining whether to make attorney’s fees and costs awards at the appellate level, the court shall primarily consider the relative financial resources of the parties, unless an appellate party’s cause is deemed to be frivolous. In Title IV-D cases, attorney’s fees, suit money, and costs, including filing fees, recording fees, mediation costs, service of process fees, and other expenses incurred by the clerk of the circuit court, shall be assessed only against the non-prevailing obligor after the court makes a determination of the non-prevailing obligor’s ability to pay such costs and fees.

Inconclusion, family law in Florida aims to protect the best interests of the family members, especially children. Divorce, child custody, and support, and domestic violence are just a few of the legal aspects covered in family law in the state. It is essential to consult a family law attorney in Florida for legal advice and guidance on any family law matter. 

Discuss Your Case with A South Florida Divorce Lawyer

The Joseph Firm, P.A., has extensive experience helping clients pursuing divorce in South Florida, including Miami Dade County. Our law firm fully understands the challenges of a divorce, and we're always ready to provide the highest-quality legal representation. Whether your divorce settles outside the courtroom or goes to trial, our attorneys go the extra mile for every client.

We handle every case with a unique approach, as we know every marriage is different. You can expect care and compassion while we fight aggressively for your rights and a favorable outcome. Our firm offers evaluations. Speak to a Miami divorce attorney at The Joseph Firm, P.A. today by calling (305) 501-0992 or contacting us online.

And if you, or someone you know, is dealing with a family or marital related matter call a Miami divorce lawyer at Joseph Firm, P.A.  can help handle your case from beginning to end, helping you pursue the best possible outcome. The experienced divorce lawyers at Joseph Firm, P.A. are ready to hear your story. We provide smart, aggressive family law representation to clients. To learn more, call (305) 501-0992 or contact us online.