Our Florida Divorce Lawyers Discuss Florida's Residency Requirement for Issuing a Divorce Order

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The Residency Requirement for Florida Divorce Cases:

For a Florida court to have jurisdiction over a dissolution of marriage in Florida, the court must have subject matter jurisdiction.  Subject matter jurisdiction is a right or obligation conferred upon a court to hear a type of case from a statue or the constitution.  Without subject matter jurisdiction being properly pled and conferred upon the court, then the divorce judgment is void and its validity can be challenged at any time.  Florida Statute Section 61.021 confers subject matter jurisdiction to a court to hear divorce actions in Florida.  Florida Statute 61.021 states: “Residence requirements. —To obtain a dissolution of marriage, one of the parties to the marriage must reside 6 months in the state before the filing of the petition.”  Therefore, for a court to have subject matter jurisdiction to issue a final judgment granting a divorce a party must have been a resident of the state of Florida for six months. 

Subject matter jurisdiction is requirement that can not be waived and can not be created by agreement of the parties.  In other words, if even both parties wish to be divorced in Florida, but neither party has been a resident of the state for six months, then the court can not grant the parties a divorce.  The court must be provided competent and substantial evidence of the residency requirement.  The uncorroborated testimony of one of the parties or a stipulation by both parties will not meet the residency requirement for divorce cases.  The evidence that may be presented to properly prove residency is a valid Florida driver’s license that was issued six months prior, a Florida voter’s registration may be used and affidavits from corroborating residency witnesses may also be used to prove the residency requirement to have Florida grant a dissolution. 

Frequently Asked Questions About the Residency Requirement in Divorce Cases

What is the definition of residency under Section 61.021 of the Florida Statutes:

Residency means an actual presence in Florida coupled with the intention to reside in Florida indefinitely.  Courts have determined that the issue of whether a party is a resident within the meaning of Section 61.021, Florida Statutes, is a question of law and fact to be settled or determined from the facts of that particular case. Fowler v. Fowler, 22 So. 2d 817 (Fla. 1945).

Does Traveling Outside of Florida Effect the Residency Requirement?

In Copas v. Copas the court determined that a person does not have to be physically present in the state of Florida for the entire 6 months.  The party can travel and not reset the six-month residency time period. 687 So. 2d 885 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997).

Does Maintaining a Vacation Home in Florida Satisfy the Residency Requirement?

Maintaining a vacation home or temporary home for 6 months is not adequate to satisfy the residency requirement. Gillman v. Gillman, 413 So. 2d 412 (Fla. 4th DCA 1982),

How is the Divorce Residency Requirement Applied to Military Personnel and Spouses?

Military spouses are presumed to be residents of Florida while they continue to reside in Florida. Fla. Stat. § 47.081. A military spouse who was a Florida resident prior to entering the military and never established a permanent residence elsewhere continues to be a Florida resident. Bofonchik v. Smith, 622 So. 2d 1355 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993)

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Our Florida Divorce lawyers have the knowledge and experience to advocate for you and your children during your divorce case.  We understand the nuances of filing for divorce and have developed successful strategies to assist you with your divorce case.  Call our office today to schedule your consultation,  Our team of divorce attorneys serve Florida, Panama City, Pensacola, Fort Walton, and Orlando are committed to zealously representing our clients.