What if a Spouse Dies During a Divorce?
You have a lot to think about when you are going through a divorce. You may, however, likely are not considering the thought that your spouse may die during the divorce proceedings. It may seem as though a death of one of the litigating parties will make divorce proceedings even more complex, but that is not actually the case. In fact, if you are in the middle of the divorce process and your spouse passes away, the rules in Florida may help simplify your case.
Florida Will Not Grant a Divorce After Death
In the state of Florida, if one spouse passes away, the courts will not grant the divorce. There really is no reason, after all, to dissolve the marriage through divorce because the surviving spouse can now live their life as a single person, just as they would after divorce. As such, the family courts will dismiss the divorce case.
Before the case is dismissed, however, the surviving spouse must file a suggestion of death. This informs the family court that one spouse has passed away. In other cases that do not involve divorce, a suggestion of death allows a person to stand in for the deceased in litigation matters. Due to the fact that there is no stand in for a person going through a divorce case, the case is simply dismissed.
How Does Death Affect Property Division Proceedings?
Certain states allow the family court to retain jurisdiction over the property division aspect of divorce after one of the parties dies. In these areas, the family court will divide the couple’s assets and debts just as they would have if both parties were present. Any property awarded to the deceased would then go to their estate.
It does not work that way in Florida. In The Sunshine State, the family courts no longer have jurisdiction over a divorce case after one party dies. The divorce case is simply dismissed and any property that was considered the deceased’s will move into probate as it normally would after a person’s death.
How Does Death Affect Child Custody Hearings?
When one spouse dies during divorce proceedings and there are children involved, the surviving parent will obtain sole custody of any minor children. Grandparents do not have automatic visitation rights in Florida, so it is entirely at the surviving spouse’s discretion as to whether or not to allow visitation.
Have Questions About Your Divorce? Our Florida Family Lawyers can Answer Them
Sadly, it does sometimes happen that one spouse dies in the middle of divorce proceedings. However, that is not the only unique situation that sometimes arises. If you have questions about your divorce case, our Tampa family law attorneys can answer them. At All Family Law Group, our attorneys have the necessary experience to help you through your case, advise on the legal issues, and help you secure the most favorable outcome possible. Call us today at (813) 672-1900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
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