Divorce, otherwise known as ‘dissolution of marriage,’ is a complex emotional and legal process. In Florida, specific procedures and requirements must be followed when filing for Divorce.
This guide offers a clear, concise overview of these procedures, helping simplify the process and provide you with the necessary knowledge to navigate these challenging times. Whether you’re considering hiring a lawyer or navigating the process alone, this guide will be invaluable to start your journey.
Cynthia Hernandez Law is committed to supporting individuals and families through Divorce. Our team of experienced attorneys provides compassionate, personalized legal guidance that puts your best interests first.
If you and your spouse are residents of Florida and have decided that Divorce is the best option for both parties, this guide will walk you through how to file for Divorce in Florida. Let’s get started.
Divorce Types In Florida
Divorce can take various forms, and the specific type you opt for will depend on your unique circumstances. In Florida, two primary forms of Divorce are the “simplified” and the “regular.”
Understanding the types of Divorce available can help you make an informed decision about the best approach based on your specific needs and circumstances.
It is advisable to consult with a qualified legal professional who can guide you through the divorce papers and ensure your rights are protected.
Simplified Dissolution Of Marriage
A Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is a streamlined process available to couples who meet specific criteria, making the divorce process simpler and faster.
Both parties must agree to the Divorce, have no minor or dependent children, and have no disagreements over the division of property or debts. In addition, at least one party must have lived in Florida for six months.
Regular Dissolution Of Marriage
If a couple does not qualify for a Simplified Dissolution, they must file for a Regular Dissolution of Marriage. This process is more complex and requires the involvement of the court system.
It begins with filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, detailing the grounds for Florida Divorce forms, division of assets and liabilities, and arrangements for any children. The petition is then served to the other party, who must respond within 20 days.
An Uncontested Divorce is a type of Regular Dissolution where both parties agree on all issues about the Divorce, including property division, child custody, and alimony. This eliminates the need for a trial and allows for a faster resolution. However, it still requires filing all necessary paperwork and adherence to all Florida divorce laws.
A Contested Divorce occurs when there are issues which the parties cannot agree upon, requiring the court to make a decision. These issues can include division of property, child custody, child support, and alimony. This type of Divorce can be lengthy and may require multiple court appearances and considerable legal fees.
Military Divorce addresses the unique legal and financial issues that military service members face when divorcing. It involves additional federal and state laws, such as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act.
Military pensions and benefits, residence requirements, and service of process are all factors that must be considered in a military divorce.
Understanding Florida’s different types of divorces can help you navigate the legal system more efficiently. Always seek legal advice to make the best decisions for your situation.
Divorce Rules In Florida
In addition to the different types of Divorce, specific rules must be followed when filing for Divorce in Florida. These include residency requirements, grounds for Divorce, property division laws, and child custody laws.
To file for Divorce in Florida, at least one spouse must have been a state resident for at least six months before filing. This requirement ensures jurisdiction over the proceedings. If you’re in the military and stationed in Florida, you’re considered a resident for divorce purposes.
Grounds For Divorce
Florida is a pure no-fault divorce state, meaning that you don’t need to provide a specific reason for the dissolution of marriage beyond irreconcilable differences. However, the court may consider factors like adultery when determining issues such as alimony and child custody.
Division Of Assets
Florida is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that marital assets are divided equitably, although not necessarily equally, between the spouses.
The court considers several factors when determining the division of assets, including the length of the marriage, each party’s financial status, and other each party’s contribution to the wedding.
Alimony, or spousal support, is not guaranteed in Florida divorces. The court awards alimony after considering a variety of factors.
These might include the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the wedding, and the financial resources of each party. There are different types of alimony in Florida, including durational, rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap, and permanent.
Child Custody And Support
The court prioritizes the child’s best interests in Florida when making custody decisions. Factors considered include the mental and physical health of the parents, the child’s school and community record, and the demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
Florida law also provides specific guidelines for determining child support based on the incomes of both parents and the number of minor children involved.
While it’s possible to file for Divorce in the Florida Bar Association without a lawyer, especially in more straightforward cases, it’s generally recommended to have legal representation.
This is particularly crucial in complex situations involving significant assets, disputes over child custody, or when the Divorce is contested. An experienced divorce lawyer can guide you through the process and help protect your rights.
When filing for Divorce in Florida, you must pay a filing fee. You may apply for a fee waiver if you cannot afford to pay. This involves filling out a form that requests information about your income and expenses. The filing fee will be waived if the court approves the fee waiver.
In some Florida jurisdictions, couples are required to attend mediation before a divorce trial can take place. This is a method for disputing parties to negotiate an agreement guided by a neutral third party. If an agreement is reached in mediation, it can simplify the divorce process and avoid a lengthy and costly trial.
Navigating the divorce process in Florida can be complex, and each couple’s circumstances are unique. Always consult an experienced family law attorney to protect your rights and interests.
File A Divorce In Florida | Step-wise Guide
Filing for Divorce in Florida involves several steps that must be followed to ensure a smooth and efficient process. Here is a general guide to filing for Divorce in the state of Florida:
Step 1: Determine Eligibility
Before initiating the divorce process in Florida, ensure you meet the state’s residency requirements. At least one spouse must have resided in Florida for at least six months before filing for Divorce. The court may not have jurisdiction over the case without meeting this requirement.
Step 2: Choose Grounds For Divorce
Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning you don’t need to prove fault or wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. The most common ground for Divorce in Florida is the assertion that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” You can also cite mental incapacity as grounds if your spouse has been declared mentally incapacitated for at least three years.
Step 3: Prepare Necessary Forms
Gather the required forms for filing a divorce in Florida. The essential condition is the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (Form 12.901(a)), which initiates the divorce process.
Other essential forms include the Financial Affidavit (Form 12.902(b) or 12.902(c)), which outlines your financial situation, and the Marital Settlement Agreement (if applicable), detailing agreements on property division, child custody, support, and alimony.
Step 4: Complete And File Forms
Fill out the necessary forms accurately and completely. The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must be filed with the circuit court clerk in the county where either spouse resides. Submit the documents along with the required filing fee. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may request a waiver based on financial hardship.
Step 5: Serve Your Spouse
Serve the filed forms to your spouse to inform them about the divorce proceedings. This process, known as “service of process,” must be done by a third party, such as a process server or sheriff, who delivers the documents to your spouse. Your spouse then has 20 days to respond to the petition.
Step 6: Financial Disclosure
Both parties must exchange financial information through the Financial Affidavit. This includes details about income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Complete and accurate disclosure is crucial for the court to make fair property division and support decisions.
Step 7: Negotiate Settlement Or Mediation
Attempt to agree on critical issues such as property division, child custody, visitation, support, and alimony. You and your spouse can negotiate directly or opt for mediation, where a neutral third party helps facilitate discussions and reach mutually agreeable solutions.
Step 8: Finalize The Divorce
If you and your spouse reach an agreement, you can finalize the Divorce by submitting a Marital Settlement Agreement (if applicable) and other required documents to the court for approval. Without understanding, the case may proceed to trial, where a judge will decide on unresolved issues.
Step 9: Court Hearing And Final Judgment
Attend any court hearings scheduled by the judge. During the final hearing, the judge reviews the settlement agreement (if applicable) and ensures it’s fair and by Florida law. If everything meets the court’s requirements, the judge issues a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, officially ending the marriage.
Step 10: Post-Divorce Responsibilities
After the Divorce is finalized, fulfill any obligations outlined in the court’s judgment, such as complying with custody arrangements, paying child support or alimony, and transferring property as agreed upon in the settlement.
Filing for Divorce in Florida involves fulfilling residency requirements, preparing and filing necessary forms, serving your spouse, disclosing financial information, negotiating settlements, attending court hearings, and abiding by the court’s final judgment.
Cynthia Hernandez Law, P.A. can provide expert legal guidance and representation throughout this process to protect your rights and best interests.
How Much Does Divorce Cost in Florida?
The cost of Divorce in Florida can vary depending on the complexity of your case and whether you and your spouse can reach an agreement on critical issues. Filing fees alone for a dissolution of marriage, without any additional services or legal representation, can range from $400-$500.
Costs Involved In A Florida Divorce
The cost of a divorce in Florida can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of your case. The primary price is the filing fee, which, as of 2021, is $408 in Florida. However, this fee can be waived if you demonstrate financial hardship.
Attorney’s fees are the other significant cost associated with a divorce. These fees can vary widely based on the complexity of the case. Some divorces can be handled for a flat fee, while others may require hourly billing, the average attorney fees in Florida range from $260 to $330 per hour.
Additional costs may include process server fees, charges for mediation services, parent education classes (if children are involved), and expenses for obtaining copies of necessary documents like property deeds or financial statements.
Costs can quickly escalate in more complex divorce cases involving significant assets, child custody disputes, or alimony negotiations. This is especially true for contested divorces that require a trial. Experts like child custody evaluators, real estate appraisers, or forensic accountants may be necessary in such cases.
Cost Saving Strategies
To save money, couples can agree on as many matters as possible before starting the divorce proceedings. Mediation is another cost-effective way of deciding on property division, spousal support, and child custody.
When you can decide on these matters, you reduce the time an attorney needs to spend on your case, thus reducing your costs.
Remember, each divorce case is unique, and costs can vary significantly based on your circumstances. Always consult a qualified divorce attorney who can guide you through the process and help you understand the potential costs.
Divorce, while often complex and emotionally taxing, can be navigated smoothly with the right resources and guidance. Understanding the steps involved in filing for Divorce in Florida, from the initial petition to the final judgment, can help alleviate some of the stress associated with the process.
Remember that costs can vary greatly depending on the specifics of your situation. Consider cost-saving strategies like mediation and agreement on critical issues. However, no matter the complexity of your case, it’s essential to consult with a qualified attorney to ensure your rights and interests are adequately protected.
Remember, the end of a marriage is not just a legal process but a personal journey that requires patience, resilience, and a focus on the future. Cynthia Hernandez Law, P.A. is here to guide you through this process and help you confidently move forward. Contact us for more details.