If you are interested in seeking a divorce in Florida, this is a process that has numerous steps and forms that have to be filled out correctly in order for your case to proceed. It is helpful to work with a Florida divorce attorney who has a lot of experience in this area, as this will ensure your divorce proceeds as smoothly as possible.
Under the statutes of the state of Florida, one spouse needs to have lived in the state for at least six months before he or she can file for divorce. The statute is Fla. Stat. § 61.021 (2019). In addition, if you decide to file for divorce in Florida, you need to make these filings in the county in which you reside.
There are several forms that you need to fill out in order to proceed with your Florida divorce. The first form you need to complete is titled the “Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage.” There is a helpful Family Court resources page on the website for the Florida Courts were all of these forms can be located. When you fill out this first form, the spouse who is requesting the divorce is called the “petitioner.” The other spouse on the form is called the “respondent.”
In addition to this, you will need to complete a “Summons.” After this, you can file both the summons and the original petition with the Florida court. If you have children, there will be other forms that you will need to fill out as well. This is one of the reasons why it is helpful to work with a Florida divorce lawyer.
In the state of Florida, there is no such thing as a fault-based divorce. In other words, you will not have to prove that your spouse somehow committed marital misconduct that ultimately leads to your dissolution of marriage. In Florida, you simply need to indicate on your original petition (from above) that the marriage is broken and cannot be fixed.
Now, the judge can still consider marital misconduct when it comes to dividing property, child custody, and even alimony. Therefore, when you fill out your petition, you need to make sure that you indicate all of the issues that you want addressed when your marriage dissolves. Some of the issues that you might want to address include:
If you and your spouse have already made these agreements ahead of time, you have no children under the age of 18, and neither spouse would like alimony, then there is a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Petition” that you can fill out. This will help the process move more quickly.
In addition, you can also use a settlement agreement to resolve your divorce. This is another reason why it is helpful to head to the website of the local circuit court. This will help the process proceed more quickly.
After you have your forms filled out, it is time to file them. You should make sure that you file your forms in the county in which you live. In addition, you need to make sure that your petition has been notarized before you file these forms with the court. Many courts have notary services that you can complete for a small fee. Make sure that you give a copy of your (signed) petition to the clerk of court, along with any applicable fees. In exchange, the clerk will hand you a copy showing that your forms have been received by the court. Be sure that you retain multiple copies, as you will need to give one to your spouse.
If you are the one serving your forms to your spouse, there are several ways you can do this. In many cases, there is a Florida divorce attorney representing your spouse who can agree to receive these forms on his or her behalf. If there is no lawyer, the local sheriff can deliver the forms to the spouse by hand. Finally, there are alternative serving processes, such as using a private server, but these may need to be approved by the court ahead of time.
As the Florida divorce proceeds, each spouse will have to complete something called a financial affidavit. From the time the petition has been served, both parties will have 45 days to produce this financial affidavit. There is a tool on the Florida Family Law website that can help you fill out these forms. Some of the information that you will need to include covers:
When you proceed with divorce in Florida, you need to make sure that you are honest with all of your disclosures. A spouse who is not honest about his or her disclosures during Florida divorce could face sanctions.
This is a brief overview of how divorce proceeds in the state of Florida. This can be a complicated process that many people are going through for the first time. This is why it is helpful to rely on an experienced Florida divorce attorney. At The Law Offices of Leonard R. Ross, matters of divorce and family law are our speciality, and we would very much like to help you with your situation. Schedule an appointment today at (386) 200-9950.