When there are children, pets, or other contentious assets like a home or car involved, getting a divorce is sometimes one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. This stress can also get worse if friends or relatives don’t support your decision. However, you must act in your own best interests, which occasionally entails leaving a failing marriage.
Divorce is referred to as a dissolution of marriage in Florida. This will end the marriage for any married couple and distribute their assets and debts. The question of alimony may come up if one spouse is unable to support themselves. If there are children, the issues of child custody and maintenance will be decided.
It can be intimidating to go through the legal process if you’re going to divorce in Florida. But depending on the circumstances and the decisions you make, it really doesn’t necessarily have to be a struggle.
When you file for a Florida divorce, which the state’s statutes refer to as “dissolution of marriage,” you have a few options:
You can go the conventional path and get legal counsel right away to defend you.
Instead, choose an online divorce service that will give you the documents that are already completed (based on your answers to a questionnaire) and effectively serve as your divorce advisor. However, keep in mind that these agencies often exclusively deal with uncontested divorces. That suggests that you and your husband must have already achieved an understanding regarding all the terms of the divorce, either independently or with the help of mediation.
You might also choose to handle the divorce on your own if you want to save money. If you choose to go down this path, it is crucial that you comprehend Florida’s criteria, including the forms you will need, the location of the filing, and the next stages.
Types of Florida Divorces
There are two types of divorce in Florida:
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
There is a procedure for “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage” under Florida divorce law. As long as the parties are in absolute agreement on the parameters of the divorce and it is uncontested, couples can use this to obtain a rapid divorce that takes about 30 days from filing to finalization. There are conditions that must be satisfied, though. The woman cannot be pregnant, there can be no alimony involved, neither party can have any children under the age of 18 or dependent children, and both parties must consent to this process.
Both parties must completely concur on the conditions of the separation and that the marriage is irrecoverably shattered, and at least one of the parties must have resided in Florida for at least the previous six months. The rights to a trial and appeals are also taken away by this process for both parties.
Regular Dissolution of Marriage
To begin a traditional divorce procedure, any spouse may submit a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” to the court. A petition outlines the reasons and details the filing spouse’s requests for the property partition, alimony, custody, and child support. The Petition must be “served” (or delivered) to the other spouse by the spouse who filed the Petition.
The other partner now has the option to concur with the conditions of the Petition or submit an answer to the Petition. Couples can frequently come to a divorce arrangement on their own or with the assistance of a mediator. Couples who are unable to resolve their differences through mediation must go to court. All divorce-related disputes will be decided by a judge in court.
Preparing Florida Divorce Forms
The Florida Court System’s Self-Help Center has the fundamental forms you’ll need to begin the divorce process available for download. Divorce petitions, responses, and supporting paperwork can come in a variety of formats.
Before you know which forms, to begin with, you’ll need to determine a few things:
Do you satisfy the conditions for Florida’s “simplified divorce of marriage”? In these situations, the Petition must be in a unique form. This document will be completed by both partners and signed by them both in the judicial clerk’s office.
If you’re requesting a traditional divorce, identify which spouse will be the “petitioner” (the one who files the original Petition and related divorce documents) and which spouse will be the “respondent” (the one who files the answer to the complaint)? The forms that each of you requires will depend on the answer to this question.
Do you have marital assets or debts that need to be divided under Florida law if you don’t have minor or dependent children? Based on the response to the question, there are different petition formats. (You must use the complaint form designed exclusively for parents of minor or dependent children.)
Can you and your husband reach a divorce settlement that covers all issues, such as alimony, child custody, child support, and how to divide your assets and debts? If this is the case, you are free to move through with an uncontested divorce and submit your marriage settlement agreement along with the legal separation using the relevant form from the court’s website.
The instructions for each form give details about the additional forms that must (or may) be submitted along with the divorce petition and answer.
To learn more about the regulations in your county, it is best to inspect online or with the circuit court clerk. Your county may have extra forms or filing obligations.
How To File For Divorce In Florida
In Florida, there is no requirement that you or your partner establish any sort of blame in order to obtain a divorce. Alternatively, you just need to demonstrate that your marriage is irretrievably broken or that your partner has been mentally handicapped for three years. However, the court frequently takes culpability into account while determining other family law issues, such as:
- Child custody or parental responsibility
- Property division
- And alimony in limited circumstances
Satisfy the residency requirements for divorce in Florida
You must confirm that you meet all Florida divorce standards before you begin the filing procedure. One of them is relocating to the state and staying there for at least six months. Only the person filing for the divorce needs to be a resident of Florida; you don’t need to be both. The court will not have jurisdiction over your case if you don’t meet these criteria, so you’ll have to either wait or file in the state where you now reside.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage should be the initial document you submit to obtain a divorce in Florida. You must locate this form and complete the necessary fields with details about you, your partner, and your kids.
Keep in mind that Florida divorce documentation is not just a Petition. According to your unique circumstances, you may need to locate and complete a number of uncontested divorce documents in order to file for divorce in Florida. Common paperwork needed to apply for divorce includes:
- Financial Affidavit.
- Family Court Cover Sheet.
- Marital Settlement Agreement.
- Notice of Social Security Number.
- Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure.
There is additional required paperwork that you must look for, and it is difficult to estimate their entire quantity without knowing the particulars of your family and financial problems. Due to the number of fields, you must fill out, and the legal jargon used in the paperwork, the process of completing it could potentially prove difficult.
Obtaining and completing divorce paperwork in Florida generally takes some time. There is always a chance of making errors, forgetting fields, or accidentally omitting some forms. To stop it, though, you do not need to pay a lawyer. There are trustworthy and legitimate internet firms that can select case-specific paperwork for you and quickly complete it.
Filing Your Forms
You must complete and present the Petition and other paperwork, including a “summons,” to the circuit court clerk’s office in the county where you and your spouse last resided together with the intention of continuing to be married.
Unless you qualify for a waiver based on your financial need, you must pay a filing fee. The divorce filing fee in Florida varies from county to county, although it often costs $400 or less.
You must print the divorce documents once you have successfully completed the procedure of creating your own Florida divorce documents. Keep in mind that you must notarize your signature on your Petition and a few additional documents before you can submit them.
After that, you must make copies of the documents and file them along with the originals with the circuit court in the county where you currently reside or were most recently a resident with your ex-spouse in order to petition for divorce. The court clerk will stamp the documents after you pay the filing fee and return the originals while keeping copies.
Serving Your Forms
It is a requirement of filing for divorce in Florida that you provide your ex with divorce papers as soon as you do. Serving your spouse entails formally informing them of the start of the divorce procedure by giving them copies of the paperwork you filed.
The legislation in Florida prohibits you from completing the service on your own. You must employ a person to serve the divorce papers. Depending on the county, this could either be a sheriff or a process server. Therefore the cost of their services will change.
The signed and notarized Answer, Waiver, and Request for Copy of Final Judgment, as well as the Financial Affidavit if it is necessary for your situation, must be returned to you by your partner within 20 days after the completion of service. These forms must then be filed with the clerk.
Both partners will have to disclose comprehensive data about their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities early on in the divorce proceeding. Both a short form and a lengthy form, with instructions, are available in the court’s self-help center. You will each need to fill out the relevant “Family Law Financial Affidavit” form for your circumstance, fill it with the court, and serve a copy of the document to the other spouse. This affidavit must be submitted to the court and served to your spouse.
If this affidavit is missing from your Petition (or response), you must serve it to your partner 45 days after the Petition is delivered.
According to the guidelines on the form, you might not be required to submit the economic affidavit in some circumstances, such as when you don’t have any minor children, there are no concerns about child support, and you’ve submitted a documented consent decree that settles all money difficulties.
You must also complete the affidavit and submit the necessary financial paperwork, such as:
- evidence of income
- evidence of wealth
- evidence of debt
- tax filings
- bank records,
- any additional paperwork called for by Florida court regulations.
You must be meticulous and truthful in your financial declarations. If one spouse doesn’t disclose all accounts, debts, or assets during a divorce, they may be subject to fines and even jail time.
Attend A Divorce Hearing
One of the last steps in obtaining an uncontested divorce in Florida is the final hearing. A petitioner must attend the final divorce hearing in order to respond to the judge’s inquiries, although the defendant’s attendance may be voluntary depending on the court’s rules.
You must provide your spouse with the Notice of Hearing after the date has been determined. Bring the remaining documentation you really have to file to the divorce hearing and arrive a bit early. You’ll need a Final Disposition later, so bring one with you. Your Settlement Agreement will be reviewed by the judge, who may also want documentation of your address. Uncontested hearings are typically relatively brief, and if you follow the correct court procedure and submit all the documentation on time, there won’t be any problems.
Also, read: Grandparent’s rights in Florida.
Grounds for divorce in Florida
You must have one of the following reasons for divorce in Florida:
1. The marriage has been irreparably damaged (can never be fixed)
2. At least three years prior to the divorce petition, a judge had determined that one of the parties was mentally incompetent.
The offender may try to convince the judge that the marriage is not irreparably destroyed and request that counseling or mediation be ordered before granting a divorce. If this were to occur, you may tell the judge about the domestic abuse and argue that everyone would benefit from the divorce. More frequently than not, mediation may be required to settle divorce-related disputes rather than to mend a broken marriage.
At that time, if you bring up the subject of domestic violence, the judge may take action to protect you (e.g., ensuring that the mediator is informed of the violence, segregating you and the abuser, etc.). Alternately, the judge might concur that mediation is not necessary in this case.
Property Division in Florida
Each party is permitted to retain his or her non-marital assets, which are:
- Assets amassed, liabilities incurred, and exchanged for such resources and obligations before the marriage;
- Assets obtained through a bequest, an non spousal gift, or as compensation for such assets;
- Earnings from non-marital relationships, unless the parties perceive them as marital assets.
- Assets and liabilities that have been acquired in exchange for or designated as non-marital by a legitimate written agreement;
- Any debt contracted by one spouse in the other spouse’s name.
If the court is required to split the assets, he or she will presume an equal distribution but may take into account:
- Each partner’s commitment to the marriage, including their care and education of the children and domestic duties,
- The parties’ financial situations,
- The length of the marriage, any interruptions to each party’s personal jobs or educational possibilities,
- The support provided by one spouse for their partner’s job or educational opportunities,
- The advantage of maintaining any property undamaged and unaffected by any claim or interference from the other, including a stake in a firm, corporation, or professional practice.
- Contributions made by either party to the purchase, generating of income from, enhancing, or assuming of liabilities for both marital and non-marital assets,
- The merits of keeping the marital home as the personal residence for any relying kid or another party when doing so would be fair and practical,
- Purposeful spending, wasting, depletion, or destruction of marital assets after the Petition’s filing or within two years of the Petition’s filing,
- Many more elements are required to ensure justice and equity between the parties.
An Important Note
It is feasible to initiate a divorce on your own, but it will not always be the wisest course of action. It’s most useful when your case is uncontested or when you have very few assets and no minor or dependent children. However, you could be best off hiring a lawyer if you have custody disputes or a sizable amount of property. Laws governing divorce can be very complex. A skilled divorce attorney will be familiar with the nuances of the law and the workings of the court system.
Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to deal with the outcomes of your case long after the divorce is final. There’s no assurance you’ll be able to repair a mistake if you find out later that you made one. Therefore, it pays to do it correctly the first time.
Additionally, you should think about how your divorce in Florida may affect your tax condition. Your tax filing status could be impacted, for example, by the taxability of alimony payments, property transfers, and child dependence deductions. In order to prevent committing expensive mistakes that you might not be able to fix once your divorce papers are finished, it’s always a good idea to involve your accountant and/or a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.
To file for divorce, a spouse must reside apart from one another. Florida, however, does not demand a waiting time or separation before submitting a divorce petition. The only prerequisite for obtaining a divorce is that at least one party must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing.“
To effectuate a divorce, the court assesses fees. A filing fee is what we refer to here. The average divorce filing fee in Florida counties is $408. However, some counties charge $409. Duval County will charge you an additional $12 fee and penalize you if you don’t have counsel.
Regardless of whether it should be contested or uncontested, a divorce can take anywhere from three to twenty-four months. An uncontested divorce typically lasts three months. The typical length of a disputed divorce is 12 months. The length of time varies depending on the judge, the county, and the parties’ desire to move things through quickly or slowly.
There is a procedure for a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage” under Florida divorce law. Couples can use this to get a quick divorce that takes about 30 days from filing to finalization as long as the parties are completely in agreement on the terms of the divorce and it is uncontested.
In speaking, there is no obvious benefit to filing first; nevertheless, since they are taking the first action, the person that files first typically has done the study and rigorous inquiry into how they need to arrange for divorce.
The very first step in filing for divorce in Florida is Filling out the Petition.
You are able to petition for divorce in Florida without a lawyer. However, adhering according to the laws and regulations will be essential to your success. It can be intimidating to go through the legal process if you’re going to divorce in Florida.
The excellent thing is that you can still obtain a divorce in Florida even if the opposing party refuses to sign the divorce documents. You don’t have to demonstrate that one partner or the other was at fault in the separation because Florida is a “no-fault” state. You only need to say that the marriage is irreparably ruined in its place.
Divorces that are mutually agreed upon always cost less to file. By doing this, you can serve your spouse with the divorce decree without having to pay an essentially the process or sheriff. Additionally, you won’t have to pay for their attorneys’ fees or participate in court-mandated mediation.
There will be an “equitable distribution,” or the division of marital assets and obligations when a married couple files for divorce in Florida. See Florida Rule 61.075 on Divorce. Unless there are circumstances that would render an equal distribution inequitable, the court would typically divide marital assets and liabilities 50/50.
The courts didn’t serve the dissolution of a brief marriage the same way they would handle the breakup of a long marriage. The Florida courts will decide how to divide your assets and award support based on the length of your marriage and in a way that they believe is appropriate and fair.