Florida Statute 61.021 requires to obtain a Dissolution of Marriage, one of the parties to the marriage must reside in the State of Florida for six (6) months before filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Notice that only one party must reside in the State. That means that a person could leave their spouse behind in another state, move to Florida and after six (6) months file a valid Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
To “reside” in Florida means to live in the State with the intent to make Florida your permanent home. Someone in Florida for a long vacation, on temporary work assignment, or caring for an ill relative would not qualify. Conversely you can reside in Florida while being physically absent from the State for long periods of time. This frequently is the case with people serving in the military who may be out of the State for years at a time. As long as the service person intends for Florida to be their residence they can file for divorce in Florida. Also, under Florida Statute 47.081 a member of the United States Military who is living within the borders of Florida is presumed to be a resident of Florida.
A Court will consider many facts if residency is a contested issue. No one fact is controlling but among the facts a court will consider are; has a person filed a Statement of Domicile under Florida Statute 222.17, does a person own real property in Florida and even more significant does the property qualify for a homestead real property exemption, and does a person vote in Florida or have a Florida Driver License. Even if residency is not a contested issue in a case you must still prove to the Court that you are a resident of the State. Florida Statute 61.052(2) allows use of a valid Florida Driver License, a Florida voter’s registration card, or a valid Florida identification card to prove residency. The driver license, voter’s registration card or identification card must have been issued at least six (6) months before your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed. A Court can also accept the in court sworn testimony of a third party or a sworn statement, under penalty of perjury that you resided in Florida for at least six (6) months before filing your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
The residency requirement cannot be stipulated to or waived by the parties. If the residency requirement is not met the Court does not have jurisdiction to proceed and will dismiss the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
Interestingly you do not have to be a citizen of the United States to obtain a divorce in Florida. In Pawley v. Pawley, 46 So.2d 464 (Fla 1950) the Florida Supreme Court stated, “Citizenship is not a statutory jurisdictional prerequisite for divorce and neither of the words “citizen” or “citizenship” can be read into our statute.” Even a non-citizen who has a visa that is expiring, and who must leave the county, can file for divorce in Florida. Hamilton v. Michieli, 954 So.2d 739(Fla. 3rd DCA 2007) held that subsequent changes in residency were irrelevant to a trial Court’s determination of jurisdiction.