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Q: How long must one live in Florida before a divorce can be filed?

A: A person must reside in Florida a minimum of six months before initiation a divorce proceeding. However, if your spouse does not nor or has not lived in Florida for six months, there are complications in proceeding with all aspects of the divorce in this state.

Q: How does a court determine who gets custody of the children?

A: First, the term “custody” has virtually disappeared from the family law statutes of Florida. “Custody” by its very definition implies a form of ownership, certainly a connotation not properly used when referring to our children.

Instead, Florida has adopted the term “time sharing,” meaning allocating the time, and coming up with a plan as to what times the children will be with Mom and what times the children will be with Dad. At the inception, the law clearly states that there is no presumption for or against either parent in time sharing. The pivotal focus of the Court is the best interest of the children.

Each family and the parents’ circumstances are different and, as such, time sharing must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Guidance of a well qualified law firm, with decades of experience in family law can help you establish and present to a Court what truly is in your children’s best interest.

Q: My partner and I married in Massachusetts. We moved to Florida in 2010. I now want to get divorced. How do I file for divorce in Florida?

A: As of now, you don’t, unless you come across a really progressive judge, and then you face a reversal of the decision on appeal. Essentially, in Florida, as well as about 37 other states, same sex marriages are not legal. Without gay marriage there is no gay divorce.

So even though you were legally married in Massachusetts, Florida will not grant you a divorce. You should check with an attorney in Massachusetts to see how you can file for divorce there. Other civil remedies are available to divide property and other assets, but absent a change in the marriage laws in Florida and a recognition of same sex marriage, other traditional “marital assets and liabilities” cannot be divided by a court, and there is no alimony.

Our firm suggests that same- sex partners enter into domestic partnership agreements. In an agreement, partners can establish each other’s rights and liabilities, and if the relationship is unsuccessful, the domestic partnership can be enforced by a Court.

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