Introduction

If you’re seeking information on how to file for dissolution of marriage in Florida, the process can generally be streamlined into two primary approaches: Simplified Dissolution and Regular Dissolution. Florida’s no-fault divorce statutes mean that filing does not require proving fault by either spouse; instead, a marriage can be dissolved because it is “irretrievably broken” or due to the mental incapacity of one partner, established by a court at least three years prior.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is an expedited process available to couples without minor or dependent children, without disagreements over property division, and where neither party is seeking alimony. This approach is less costly and faster, involving less paperwork and typically no court appearances.

Regular Dissolution of Marriage, on the other hand, is necessary when there are more complex issues to resolve, such as disputes over property, children’s care, or when alimony is sought. This process involves more detailed financial disclosures, potentially a trial, and longer waiting periods.

Choosing the right pathway depends heavily on your specific circumstances, and understanding these distinctions upfront can help streamline your decision-making process.

Infographic detailing the steps and requirements for filing either a Simplified or Regular Dissolution of Marriage in Florida, including necessary documents and eligibility criteria - how to file for dissolution of marriage in florida infographic infographic-line-3-steps

Understanding the Costs

When you decide to file for dissolution of marriage in Florida, it’s crucial to grasp the various costs involved. These expenses can impact your financial planning and decision-making throughout the divorce process. Let’s break down the main costs: filing fees, clerk charges, and electronic fees.

Filing Fees

The initial step in your divorce process involves paying a filing fee to the court. This fee is mandatory and varies depending on the county but generally revolves around $397.50. This cost covers the administrative expenses of processing your divorce paperwork.

Clerk Charges

Beyond the filing fee, you might encounter additional clerk charges. These can include costs for making copies of documents, obtaining official court stamps, and other clerical services provided by the court’s office. Each service has its own fee, often a few dollars per page or action, which can add up depending on the complexity of your case.

Electronic Filing Fee

Florida courts require documents to be filed electronically through the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal. When submitting documents electronically, a nominal electronic filing fee is charged. This fee is designed to facilitate the processing and management of electronic documents, which is faster and more efficient than paper filings.

Understanding these costs upfront helps you budget effectively for your divorce. It’s important to factor in these expenses when planning your financial future post-divorce. Always ensure you have the most current fee information from your local clerk’s office, as these can vary and may be updated.

Next, we’ll delve into the specific forms needed for filing for dissolution of marriage in Florida, ensuring you have all the necessary tools to move forward confidently.

How to File for Dissolution of Marriage in Florida

Filing for dissolution of marriage in Florida can seem like a daunting task, but by understanding the steps and requirements, you can navigate the process with greater ease. Here, we’ll explore the essential steps such as petition filing, navigating the circuit court system, and meeting residency requirements.

Petition Filing

The first step in how to file for dissolution of marriage in Florida is to complete and file the appropriate petition forms. Depending on your circumstances, you’ll choose from several types of petitions:

  • 12.901(a) for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
  • 12.901(b)(1) if you have dependent or minor children.
  • 12.901(b)(2) if you have property but no dependent or minor children.
  • 12.901(b)(3) if you have no property or dependent children.

These forms are available on the Florida Courts’ website and can be downloaded for free. It’s crucial to fill out these forms accurately, providing all required information to avoid delays.

Navigating the Circuit Court

Once the petition is prepared, file it at the circuit court clerk’s office in the county where either you or your spouse resides. Each county might have slightly different additional requirements or forms, so check with your local clerk’s office or a trusted legal advisor.

Filing the petition initiates the legal process, and the court will assign a case number which will be used to track all future documents and proceedings related to your divorce.

Residency Requirements

To file for a divorce in Florida, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to filing the petition. Proof of residency can be established with a Florida driver’s license, state ID, voter registration, or an affidavit from a third party confirming your residency duration.

Residency is a crucial requirement because it ensures that Florida courts have jurisdiction over your divorce, allowing them to legally make decisions regarding your marital status.


By understanding and preparing for each of these steps, you can file for dissolution of marriage in Florida with confidence. While the process is standard, personal circumstances can affect the specifics of your case. For detailed guidance tailored to your situation, consulting with a legal professional like Cynthia Hernandez Law can provide additional peace of mind as you navigate this significant change.

Simplified vs. Regular Dissolution of Marriage

Navigating the waters of divorce can be complex, but understanding the differences between simplified and regular dissolution of marriage in Florida can help you choose the path that best suits your situation.

Simplified Requirements

The simplified dissolution of marriage is a streamlined process designed for couples without significant disputes or complications. To qualify:
– Both parties must agree on the dissolution and all related terms.
– There are no minor or dependent children involved.
– Neither spouse is pregnant.
– Both agree on the division of assets and debts.
– Neither is seeking alimony.
– At least one spouse has been a Florida resident for six months prior to filing.

This process is faster and generally less costly, as it requires fewer filings and typically no court appearances beyond the final hearing where the divorce is granted.

Regular Process

If you don’t meet the criteria for a simplified dissolution, you’ll need to go through the regular dissolution process. This involves:
– Filing a petition for dissolution of marriage in the circuit court.
– Serving the petition to your spouse, giving them a chance to respond.
– Potentially engaging in discovery, where financial and personal information is exchanged.

This process can be lengthier and may involve court battles if there are disputes over assets, custody, or other issues.

Financial Disclosure

In a regular dissolution, full financial disclosure is mandatory. Both parties must provide detailed documentation of their income, assets, and debts. This is crucial for ensuring fair distribution of assets and determining alimony or child support. Simplified dissolution, however, does not typically require detailed financial disclosure unless specifically requested by one of the parties.

Mediation

Mediation is another key difference between the two types of dissolution. In regular dissolution cases, Florida courts often require mediation before proceeding to trial. This process involves a neutral third party helping both spouses reach an agreement on contentious issues. It’s designed to reduce court time and the associated costs of a trial. In simplified dissolution, mediation is not a standard requirement since both parties must already agree on all terms before filing.

By choosing the appropriate type of dissolution based on your specific circumstances, you can save time, reduce costs, and minimize the emotional strain often associated with divorce. Whether opting for the streamlined simplicity of a simplified dissolution or navigating the more involved process of regular dissolution, it’s crucial to ensure all legal requirements are met to finalize the dissolution effectively.

For couples unsure of which route is best or who need help managing the complexities of financial disclosures and mediation, seeking legal advice from experts like Cynthia Hernandez Law is advisable. Their guidance can be invaluable in protecting your interests throughout the divorce process.

Required Forms for Filing

When filing for a dissolution of marriage in Florida, understand and prepare the necessary forms. These documents are crucial for the court to process your divorce correctly.

Petition Forms

Filing for divorce begins with the correct Petition form. Depending on your situation, you might need different forms:

  • Form 12.901(a): For those opting for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. This form is straightforward and used when both parties agree on all terms.
  • Form 12.901(b)(1): Required when there are dependent or minor children involved.
  • Form 12.901(b)(2): Used if there’s property but no dependent or minor children.
  • Form 12.901(b)(3): Applicable when there are no dependents or property involved.

These forms can be downloaded directly from the Florida Courts’ website and are designed to cater to different divorce scenarios. Ensure you select the form that accurately reflects your circumstances to avoid delays.

Financial Affidavit

A Financial Affidavit is mandatory in all cases where financial relief is sought. This document provides a detailed account of your financial status, including income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. There are two types of Financial Affidavits:

  • Short Form (12.902(b)): For individuals with an annual income under $50,000.
  • Long Form (12.902(c)): For those earning $50,000 or more annually.

These affidavits must be filled out accurately to ensure fair distribution of assets and responsibilities.

Settlement Agreement

If you and your spouse agree on the divorce terms, such as property division, child support, and alimony, you’ll need to draft a Marital Settlement Agreement. This document outlines all agreed-upon terms and is signed by both parties. Once approved by the court, it becomes part of the final divorce decree. This agreement is crucial as it allows couples to avoid a trial by agreeing on terms independently.

Parenting Plan

For couples with children, a Parenting Plan is required. This plan outlines how you and your spouse will share child-rearing responsibilities. It includes schedules for time-sharing, decision-making authorities, and how you will handle other parenting issues. The plan aims to serve the best interests of the child and must be approved by the court.

Properly preparing and submitting these forms is a critical step in how to file for dissolution of marriage in Florida. It ensures that the legal process proceeds smoothly and that all parties’ rights and responsibilities are clearly defined. For assistance in filling out these forms correctly, consider consulting with a legal professional from Cynthia Hernandez Law, who can provide guidance tailored to your unique situation.

Navigating the Process Without an Attorney

Choosing to file for dissolution of marriage without the aid of an attorney can be a practical option for many couples, especially when both parties agree on the terms of the divorce. Here’s how to navigate this process effectively.

Self-representation

Self-representation means you handle the divorce proceedings yourself without hiring an attorney. This is particularly feasible in Florida if you’re pursuing a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. Thorough agreement between the parties on all divorce terms is crucial. You must be prepared to manage paperwork, understand legal terms, and follow courtroom protocol.

Paralegal Assistance

While not attorneys, paralegals can be invaluable in helping you fill out and file the necessary paperwork correctly. They charge less than lawyers and can guide you through the complexities of legal forms and court documents. However, they cannot represent you in court or give legal advice.

Court Appearance

Even in a simplified process, you must appear in court at least once. During this appearance, the judge will review your paperwork to ensure everything is in order and that both parties understand and agree to the divorce terms. It’s essential to be prepared: dress formally, arrive on time, and bring all necessary documents, including the Final Decree form for the judge to sign.

Final Decree

The Final Decree is the official court order that ends the marriage. Once the judge signs this document, take it to the circuit clerk to file it officially. Make sure to obtain certified copies for both parties, as this document is crucial for future legal processes like changing names or marital status on official documents.

By understanding each step and preparing accordingly, you can effectively manage your divorce process without an attorney. For additional support or clarification on filling out forms or understanding legal procedures, reach out to paralegal services or consult with professionals like those at Cynthia Hernandez Law, who can offer guidance to ensure your filings are accurate and your rights are protected.

Conclusion

At Cynthia Hernandez Law, we understand that the journey through divorce is not just a series of legal steps but a significant life transition. Whether you are navigating a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage or a Regular Dissolution of Marriage, each path towards independence requires careful handling and a deep understanding of legal procedures.

Filing for dissolution of marriage in Florida can seem daunting, but equipped with the right knowledge and resources, it is a process that can be managed effectively. Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate and personalized guidance to ensure that your rights are protected and your divorce proceedings go as smoothly as possible.

We are here to help you understand the complexities of how to file for dissolution of marriage in Florida, from drafting and filing the initial petition to finalizing the terms of your divorce. You don’t have to go through this process alone. Our experienced attorneys are just a call away, ready to assist you in turning this challenging phase into a stepping stone for a new beginning.

For more details on how we can assist you with an uncontested divorce in Tampa, please visit our service page.

Embarking on the path to a new life post-divorce can be overwhelming, but with the right support and guidance, it can also lead to newfound independence and peace. Let Cynthia Hernandez Law guide you through your divorce process with the care and expertise you deserve.