People often think where you got married matters in a divorce. As though different marriages are handed out in different states and countries and can only be divorced there. When it comes to divorce, it does not matter where you got married.
If you were married in any other state in the United States under the laws of that state, Florida will acknowledge that marriage and therefore allow you to dissolve that marriage through Florida’s laws. “Full faith and credit given to other state’s law where that law not repugnant to interest of Florida; Florida has traditionally approved of the sanctity of marriage” Johnson v. Lincoln Square Properties, Inc., 571 So.2d 541, 542 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990)
If you were married outside of the United States, Florida will acknowledge that marriage so long as the marriage was legal in the country you were married in. “Under principles of comity a marriage by citizens of a foreign country, if valid under foreign law, may be treated as valid in Florida for the purposes of a dissolution action” Montano v. Montano, 520 So. 2d 52 (Fla. 3d DCA 1988)
Recall that several celebrities have their weddings overseas for privacy only to subsequently divorce in the United States. For example, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley were married in the Dominican Republic and were subsequently divorced in Los Angeles, California.
You may not even have to be officially married in order to obtain a divorce in Florida. While Florida does not recognize common law marriages if you lived in a state that does recognizes common law marriages and that common law marriage was formed pursuant to that state’s law, then Florida will consider you married for the purposes of the dissolution of marriage. “validly created in a jurisdiction recognizing such marriages.” Am. Airlines, Inc. v. Mejia, 766 So. 2d 305, 307 n. 5 (Fla. 4th Dist.Ct.App.2000).
Common law marriages, while an old tradition in the United States, are in most states no longer a legal status. Furthermore, informal unions recognized by foreign law as being a relationship with legal status but short of being a full marriage such as the Union Marital de Hecho under Colombian law will not be considered as a marriage under Florida law and will thus not be eligible for divorce under Florida law.
The most important thing in seeking a divorce in Florida is to ensure that one of the parties has lived in Florida for at least 6 months. “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.” FLA. Stat. Sec. 61.021.
A copy of the marriage certificate from the state, county or country you were married in or any other documents relating to the wedding or marriage are not necessary to obtain a divorce in Florida. It is enough that you plead (which simply means to state) in your petition for dissolution that you were once married, and that you or your partner have since lived in Florida for at least 6 months. If the opposing party does not challenge those facts, the court (without any other information to the contrary) will take you at your word that you were married.
In conclusion: if you were lawfully married and you’ve lived in Florida for 6 months, you may get divorced in Florida.
The only remaining question is “where in Florida can you get divorced?” If you or your spouse currently live in Naples, Florida you can file for divorce in Collier County. If you both live in other counties but have significant attachment to Collier County (you have houses or children in Naples, Florida) then you may be allowed to file in Collier County as well.
In lieu of a divorce, you can always inquire into getting an annulment.
There still is one last corollary. While you may get divorced in Florida, you may have signed a prenuptial agreement which specified that your divorce follows the laws of another state (usually the state you signed the prenuptial agreement in). This creates the awkward situation of divorcing in Florida while educating the Florida judge as to the other state’s divorce laws.
Contact my Naples, Florida family law office for a free consultation and I’ll help guide you through the entire Florida divorce process.