Can a Petitioner Live in Another State if the Respondent and Child Live in Florida?

Getting a divorce affects your entire family and when it comes to child custody, Florida law always aims to do what is in the best interest of the child. If you live out of state and are petitioning for a dissolution of marriage in the state of Florida, this article will highlight some key facts you should know about divorce jurisdiction and how it can impact your custody rights.

Jurisdiction refers to the court’s authority to hear or review your case. In Florida, there are two types of jurisdiction: subject matter and personal. Subject matter jurisdiction relates to the court’s authority over the type of case, while personal jurisdiction relates to the court’s authority over individuals.

Though Florida is a no-fault divorce state (meaning you don’t need a specific reason to want a divorce), in order to successfully seek divorce in Florida, either the petitioner or the respondent must satisfy the state’s requirement for subject matter jurisdiction. That is, at least one party to the divorce must have lived in Florida for a period of no less than six months immediately prior to filing. Similarly, for proceedings involving minor children, Florida requires subject matter jurisdiction in order to make custody determinations. This means your minor child or children must also have lived in Florida for at least six months before the divorce petition is filed.

How the court will rule on matters of custody is of course unique to each case, but Florida courts rarely award any one parent sole custody. Living in another state should not negatively affect the outcome of your divorce, however it may affect the court’s custody ruling. In any event, Florida courts will generally opt for equal or shared custody unless doing so is deemed detrimental to the child.

If you have further questions about petitioning for divorce from another state or how it will affect your rights as a parent, consult with an experienced Family Attorney in order to ensure that your interests are protected.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.