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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.

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Tampa Court Publishes Requirements for Divorce

In an effort to make the process for divorce clearer to litigants in Hillsborough County, the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit has published the following Requirements for Dissolution of Marriage:

1.  PROOF OF RESIDENCY. 6 months prior to filing Petition. May be proved by drivers license, voter I.D., Affidavit of Corroborating Witness; or testimony of witness. Section 61.052(2), Fla. Stat.

2.  U.C.C.J.E.A. If any minor child or children born as a result of the marriage. Section 61.501 -61.542, Fla. Stat. (2002)

3.  FINANCIAL AFFIDAVITS for each spouse, Rule 12.285(d)(1), Family Law Rules. (This requirement may not be waived if there are financial issues.) Under $50K/Yr. – Over $50K/Yr.

4.  COMPLETED CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES WORKSHEET, if there are minor children. Family Law Rules Form 12.902(e).

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Special Issues in Military Divorce

If you are in a family law matter involving a servicemember, you will encounter some unique issues to which you must pay special attention.

Residency Requirement

Generally, one party to a divorce must have been a resident of Florida for at least six months prior to filing.  However, there is an exception for servicemembers.  A servicemember (or his or her spouse) who is not currently in Florida may petition for divorce in Florida if he or she (i) was a Florida resident prior to entering the military and (ii) never established a permanent residence elsewhere.  Even if the military member had not lived in Florida prior to entering the service, he or she may still be able to file for divorce in Florida if he or she is deployed but has an intent to remain a permanent Florida resident.  Such intent may be evidenced by the following: (i) Florida voter registration; (ii) ownership of a Florida home; or (iii) registration of a vehicle in Florida.

Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

Many of the military issues in a divorce stem from the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (the “SCRA”).  The SCRA was signed into law in 2003 and updated and replaced the Soldiers and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940.  Most provisions of the SCRA apply to the following people on active duty:  (i) members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guards; (ii) members of the National Guard; and (iii) commissioned officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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