Florida Divorce Trends: The Role of Divorce Mediator in Resolving Disputes

Florida Divorce Trends: The Role of Divorce Mediator in Resolving Disputes

Divorce is a difficult life period for everyone involved. Spouses and their families (especially children) often carry the emotional burden of separation for the rest of their lives.

Florida divorce rates have consistently been higher than the national rates over the past decade.  Some of the reasons may be financial insecurity and unemployment to lack of communication to the COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges.

In this blog post, you will learn about Florida’s divorce trends over the last decade, the main reasons leading to a divorce in a Sunshine State, and the divorce mediator role in bringing conflict resolution and reconciliation between divorcing spouses.

Florida Divorce Statistics Over a Decade

Although Florida divorce trends are falling compared to the 1990s (6.3 divorces per 1000 residents), Florida is still among the top ten states in the United States regarding divorce statistics. In 2020 there were 3.6 divorces per 1000 inhabitants, which is higher than the US average of 2.3 divorces per 1000 marriages.

Available data show that around 40-50 percent of all marriages in Florida end in divorce, which is staggering. In 2019 alone, there were 66,000 divorce filings in the Sunshine State, according to the Florida Department of Health.

However, the overall statistics show a drop in the divorce rate. For example, 8 out of 1,000 women went through a divorce during 2019 – a modest decrease compared to a decade earlier (2008) when 10 out of 1,000 women ended their marriage.

More detailed statistics reveal that 30 is the average age when people file for divorce in Florida. Among 30-year-olds divorcing couples, 11 percent already had a divorce.

Despite ending the first marriage, many couples tie the knot for the second time, but most re-married spouses in their 50s end in divorce (grey divorce). In Florida, 65% of couples terminate their second marriage, while third marriages have little over a 60% chance of surviving.

In the end, some encouraging numbers – around 40 percent of couples in Florida preserve their marriage, staying together for two decades or longer.

Understanding Divorce Trends in a Sunshine State

Understanding Divorce Trends in a Sunshine State

All states once required a divorce to be based on the fault of one party, such as adultery, cruelty or desertion. Florida became a no-fault state with the passage of its Dissolution of Marriage Act in 1971, meaning it offers—like all states now do—a pathway for divorce in which neither party is legally at fault. Now that this has become the most common type of American divorce, many states including Florida no longer even offer an at-fault avenue for divorce.

In Florida, a no-fault marriage can be granted in two situations that must be proven by the petitioner, the spouse filing the divorce papers:

  1. The marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Under Florida law, this simply means the parties are unable to work out problems and can no longer cohabitate. Other states use language like “irreconcilable differences” or “incompatibility” to describe the same rationale.
  2. A spouse is mentally incapacitated. This must be evaluated according to Florida law and determined by a court no less than three years prior to divorce proceedings. A court must also appoint a guardian ad litem (an advocate) to “defend and protect the interests of the incapacitated party” during the divorce process if none exists other than a spouse.

Florida is the fourth highest-ranking state for divorce. It’s difficult to understand why more people get divorced in Florida.

  1. People in Florida get divorced for the same reasons that in the rest of the country, yet some of those reasons may be more common in Florida than they are in the rest of the country. Many of the issues that lead to divorce in Florida are not solely related to divorce. Rather, they lead to a number of different conflicts that, in married couples, could ultimately lead to divorce.
  2. Florida is a place of relocation. Florida is known as a place that couples relocate to in order to get a new start. People sometimes believe that the nice weather and quality lifestyle will fix their relationships.  Unfortunately, all too often their problems come right along with them, and they ultimately divorce despite all that Florida has to offer.
  3. Florida also has a very large immigrant population. Many individuals, while escaping a difficult life in their homelands, find themselves having to start over with few resources, social support, or networking opportunities.  Those difficulties certainly might contribute stress on a marriage. Many immigrants move to Florida in the hopes of pursuing the American dream and having better lives than they did in their home countries. Many move to Florida as married couples or as family units. But just because you move to Florida in pursuit of a better life doesn’t mean that the better life you seek is easy; in fact, many immigrants find that, at first, life is actually harder in the United States than it was in their countries of origin, at least on an emotional level.  it’s often easier to obtain a divorce in the United States than it is in other countries. A couple may move to Florida having been unable to obtain a divorce before emigrating. This alone could keep them together, legally at least. But once that couple is able to get an easy divorce, they may as well do so while residing in Florida. This in itself could contribute to that relatively high divorce rate
  4. Florida is home to a lot of senior citizens. The rate of couples over the age of 65 seeking a divorce has actually tripled since the 1990s. Retirees are living longer than ever these days, which means they have more time to think about whether or not their marriage is providing them with what they really want and need. When the answer is no, they may see themselves as willing and able to break out of a bad marriage in order to enjoy their golden years alone or with someone new.

The Role of a Divorce Mediator: A Better Way to Divorce in Florida

Resolving divorce disputes in litigation is a traditional way of dealing with family conflicts. Litigating divorce disputes can fuel hostilities and complicate post-divorce parenting relationships. In addition, it is a costly, time-consuming, and emotionally-draining process.

On the other hand, mediation offers a revolutionary dispute-resolution experience. As an out-of-court process, mediation can be voluntary or court-ordered. In Florida, most family courts require pre-trial mediation, and couples can voluntarily agree to initiate the mediation during the court process.

Mediation is a flexible, confidential, time-effective, and cost-friendly dispute resolution method. There are no rigid evidentiary rules (discovery, witness hearing, expert witnesses), and the process lasts several weeks (or even days). The costs are considerably lower, too.

The parties choose the mediator voluntarily. The mediator is a neutral third person whose main task is facilitating negotiations between the spouses, enabling them to find common ground.

The process has four stages: introduction, opening statements, and private and joint sessions. In an introduction, the mediator presents their credentials and explains the process. After the parties give their opening remarks, each goes to separate rooms for private sessions (caucuses) with the mediator. Once the mediator hears their stories and assesses their arguments, parties sit at a negotiation table, bringing offers and counteroffers. The mediator facilitates their talks and (if they settle) prepares the Mediated Marital Settlement Agreement. The Agreement includes a parenting plan, alimony, child support, and marital property distribution.

Divorce mediators have a crucial role in overbridging disagreements between divorcing spouses. They do not have decision-making authority, nor do they propose solutions. They encourage friendly conversation and motivate the parties to express their true feelings. Experience mediators focus on providing a forum where parties can find a path to a new life after the divorce, including productive co-parenting relationships.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Florida divorce rates are (among the top ten in the United States;
  • Around 40-50 percent of all marriages in Florida ended in divorce;
  • 30 is the average age when people file for divorce in Florida;
  • Divorce trends in Florida include several typical reasons, such as character traits, medical issues, financial hardships, relocation, and empty nest syndrome;
  • Divorce mediation is time-effective, cost-friendly, confidential, and future-oriented dispute resolution method;
  • Divorce mediators focus on reconciliation, helping spouses find a path to mutual understanding and productive post-divorce relationships.

Resolving Disputes with Compassion and Understanding

Deborah Beylus is a Certified Florida Supreme Court family mediator specializing in financial and relationship aspects of divorce.

Knowing that neutrality is a crucial trait of a successful mediator, Deborah will focus on vital issues and assist parties in coming up with genuine solutions. In resolving the conflict, she explores creative alternatives acceptable to both parties.

Because dispute resolution is not only about financial issues, Deborah approaches each conflict with compassion and understanding, helping everyone involved cope with stress and the emotional burden inherent to every divorce.

Deborah Beylus is available for her clients in her Boca Raton office, 301 Yamato Road, Suite 4110, FL 33431. You can contact her at 561-789-0710 or via email at info@southfloridamediationservices.com.

Please reach out today to schedule your appointment.