DIFFICULTY: Legal help required
Initial Filing Fee: $409
If you are seeking a divorce in the state of Florida, one of two conditions must be met. Either a) the marriage must be irretrievably broken, or b) one member of the marriage must be mentally incapacitated for a period of 3 years or longer. If the divorce is contested, or if the marriage has produced a minor child, the court may deny the petition for divorce and instead require marriage counseling, or take other action it deems to be in the best interest of the parties involved. However, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that the dissolution of the marriage does not need to be pinned on one spouse.
The length of your divorce proceedings depends on whether the divorce is contested or not. When the two parties are able to reach a settlement between themselves, or with the help of a mediator, divorce proceedings can take as little as two to three weeks. Reaching a settlement out of court is preferred, because it means that both parties are more likely to comply with the agreement. If, however, the divorce is contested, or if parties disagree about the manner in which the marriage should be dissolved, the case will go to trial and a judge will make the final decision about allocation of property and custody rights.
Step 1: File for Divorce
File a petition for divorce in the county where you and your spouse last lived as husband and wife, or where you currently reside. There is a filing fee of $409, though the cost may vary with county. If there will be a child custody hearing as part of the divorce settlement, then the child custody worksheet (Form 12.902(e)) must be filled out and filed in addition to other documentation. The child support documentation is mandatory—it cannot be waived by either party or the court. The initial divorce petition you file will depend on whether there are children or properties to be divided. Choose the form that best suits your case below. A petition for simplified dissolution is used when both parties wish to not use a lawyer and nothing in the divorce is contested including children, alimony, and property.
• Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
• Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren)
• Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Child
• Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Dependent or Minor Child(ren) or Property
Step 2: Serve the Other Party
Serve the other party copies of your divorce request papers. Once the defendant has been served, they have twenty days to respond to the petition and issue a petition of his or her own, outlining any additional issues. Failure by either party to provide the necessary documents can result in the court dismissing the case or ignoring that party’s requests.
Step 3: Attend Court Hearing
Attend your court hearing date with your lawyer and copies of all your filed papers. During the hearing, you lawyer will present your case and help ensure that you receive your fair allocation of any property or child custody in dispute.