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What Happens If Your Spouse Dies During Divorce?


Perhaps your spouse had been sick for quite some time and then passed away after the divorce process had started, but was not finalized. Or, maybe your spouse died suddenly, such as if they were in a fatal car accident. Whatever the situation, the death of your spouse will bring on many emotions. It is important to take the time to grieve, as this is a substantial loss even if you did want to end the marriage. However, there is something else you must consider, and that is how a death may affect your divorce case.

It is natural to assume that the death of your spouse will only complicate the divorce process. In Florida though, that is not the case. In fact, the death of a spouse can actually make the process simpler.

A Death will Dismiss the Divorce Case

The Florida courts will not grant a divorce when one of the parties passes away during the process. After all, a death will bring an end to the marriage naturally and so, there is no reason to go through with the divorce. The family courts will not want to add to the backlog by hearing a case that is essentially unnecessary and so, they will simply dismiss the case.

Before the court will dismiss the case, you must file a suggestion of death. This notifies the family court of the death. In other legal cases, a suggestion of death allows someone else to stand in the place of the deceased. Since this is not relevant in a divorce case, the court will just dismiss the case.

Does a Death Affect Division of Property?

In some states, the family courts will still have jurisdiction over the assets and liabilities of a deceased party in divorce proceedings. This allows the court to still divide marital property. Any property distributed to the deceased goes to the estate. In Florida, this is not how it works.

Due to the fact that the family courts will dismiss the case after a death, they no longer have jurisdiction when one spouse dies during the divorce process. Any property of your spouse will go through probate and if you co-owned assets and liabilities with your spouse, you will retain ownership.

Does a Death Affect Parenting Time?

When a couple has children together and one of the parents dies, the surviving spouse is given sole custody, known as parenting time in Florida. Grandparents are not given automatic visitation rights in the Sunshine State, so the surviving spouse has complete discretion as to whether they will allow visitation.

Our Family Lawyers in Orlando Can Answer All of Your Questions

There are many unique issues present in divorce, including when one of the parties passes away. At Anderson & Ferrin, P.A., our skilled Orlando family lawyers know you have a lot of questions, and we also have the answers to them. Call us today at 407-412-7041or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and to obtain the sound legal advice you need.

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