The Military, Florida Divorce, and Residency Requirements

Florida Statutes Section 61.021 imposes a residency requirement for divorce cases:  One of the parties must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage.  This generally means that a spouse will have to be physically present in Florida fort six months and have the intent to remain a permanent resident of Florida.

However, Florida does provide exceptions for members of the military.

Florida family courts may take jurisdiction of a divorce if a servicemember who previously lived in Florida is stationed outside of the state due to the requirement of the military, but still considers Florida to be his or her primary state of residence.  See Coons v. Coons, 765 So. 2d 167 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000).   In other words, the military member’s absence from the state for six months is excused in most cases if Florida is the servicemember’s home state.

Further, servicemembers and their spouses are presumed to be residents of Florida for purposes of the divorce statute if they are stationed in the state.  See F.S. s. 47.081.

Understandably, most members of the armed services are surprised to hear that divorce proceedings are public.  Obviously, things that occur in these proceedings, if they were to make it back to a servicemember’s supervising officer, could and oftentimes do affect that person’s military career.

This is why I strongly suggest that any member of the military consider utilizing the collaborative divorce process.  This is a form of private divorce where each party hires an attorney, and family issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, and division of property and debt are determined in the conference rooms of professionals rather than in the public courthouse.  The attorneys are retained only for this private process, and are contractually barred from bringing any disputed issues in front of a judge.  A facilitator, who has a role similar to a mediator, is engaged as a neutral third-party to help keep the process moving forward.

Only once an entire agreement is reached will the parties go before a judge to make their divorce official, and most of the time any financial agreements and information and other private matters can be excluded from the court file.

If you are a member of the military and you have questions regarding Florida divorce or how the collaborative process can help maintain your privacy, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.

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About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at www.FamilyDiplomacy.com. Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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