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Understand the divorce process

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Understanding Divorce in Florida: A Simple Guide

If you’re considering or going through a divorce in Florida, it’s crucial to understand the basics of the process and what it entails. This article aims to simplify and clarify the essentials of divorce in Florida, to make this challenging journey a bit easier for you.

What Makes Florida Unique in Divorce Cases?

Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that you don’t have to prove your spouse did something wrong to get a divorce. Instead, the most common ground for divorce in Florida is simply stating that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” This approach can alleviate some of the stresses and conflicts often associated with proving fault.

Understanding the Basics: Divorce Process in Florida

  1. Residency Requirement: To file for divorce in Florida, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing.

  2. Filing for Divorce: The process starts when one spouse (the petitioner) files a petition for dissolution of marriage in the county where either spouse resides.

  3. Financial Disclosures: Both parties are required to make financial disclosures. This includes income, assets, debts, and expenses. It’s important for the equitable distribution of assets and liabilities.

  4. Child Custody and Support: If you have children, decisions regarding child custody, visitation, and support will be a significant part of your divorce proceedings. Florida courts focus on the best interests of the child, encouraging shared parental responsibility and time-sharing.

  5. Alimony: Alimony might be granted to one spouse, depending on various factors like the length of the marriage, financial status, and each party’s contribution to the marriage.

  6. Mediation: Before going to trial, you might be required to go through mediation to try and resolve issues. This step can save time, money, and emotional stress.

Cost and Duration

The cost and duration of a divorce in Florida can vary. An uncontested divorce where both parties agree on all terms can be quicker and less expensive. However, contested divorces, especially those involving children or significant assets, can take longer and cost more.

Conclusion

Divorce in Florida, while challenging, can be navigated successfully with the right information and support. Understanding the no-fault grounds, the importance of financial disclosures, child custody, alimony, and the potential need for legal assistance can make the process smoother. Remember, taking care of your emotional well-being during this time is just as important as managing the legal aspects. If you’re going through a divorce in Florida, remember, you’re not alone. Many resources are available to help you through this difficult time. Stay informed, seek support, and take it one step at a time.

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Divorce in Florida: A Basic Timeline

Here’s a general timeline to give you an idea of how the process may unfold:

1. Meeting Residency Requirements

  • Timeframe: Before filing
  • Details: At least one spouse must have lived in Florida for a minimum of 6 months before filing for divorce.

2. Filing the Petition

  • Timeframe: Day 0
  • Details: The divorce process officially begins when one spouse (the petitioner) files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in the county where either spouse lives.

3. Serving the Spouse

  • Timeframe: Within 20 days of filing
  • Details: The other spouse (the respondent) must be served with the divorce papers and has 20 days to respond.

4. Financial Disclosure

  • Timeframe: Within 45 days of serving
  • Details: Both parties are required to exchange financial information, including assets, debts, income, and expenses.

5. Parenting Course (if applicable)

  • Timeframe: Typically within 45 days of serving
  • Details: If the couple has minor children, both parents must complete a court-approved parenting course.

6. Mediation

  • Timeframe: Varies (often within 3 months)
  • Details: Before going to trial, spouses may be required to attend mediation to resolve issues such as property division, child custody, and alimony.

7. Settlement or Pre-Trial Conference

  • Timeframe: Varies (3-12 months)
  • Details: If mediation is successful, a settlement can be reached. If not, a pre-trial conference is scheduled where the judge will discuss the case with both parties.

8. Trial

  • Timeframe: Varies (6-12 months or more)
  • Details: If no settlement is reached, the case goes to trial. The duration depends on the court’s schedule and the complexity of the case.

9. Final Judgment

  • Timeframe: Immediately to weeks after trial
  • Details: After the trial, the judge will issue a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, officially ending the marriage.

10. Appeal (if applicable)

  • Timeframe: Within 30 days of judgment
  • Details: Either party can appeal the court’s decision within 30 days of the final judgment.

Factors Affecting the Timeline:

  • Complexity of the Case: Cases with more assets, debts, or disputes over child custody take longer.
  • Contested vs. Uncontested: Uncontested divorces, where both parties agree on all terms, can be quicker.
  • Court Backlogs: Delays in the court system can extend the timeline.

 

The divorce process in Florida can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, depending on various factors. Understanding this timeline can help you prepare and manage expectations throughout the process. Remember, having an attorney to guide you through legal nuances can be invaluable in navigating this timeline efficiently.

Divorce in Florida: Common Forms For An Easier Divorce

Here’s a list of common forms that are typically used in the divorce process in Florida:

Petition Forms for Divorce

  1. Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage – Form 12.901(a)
  2. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren) – Form 12.901(b)(1)
  3. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Child(ren) – Form 12.901(b)(2)
  4. Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Dependent Children or Property – Form 12.901(b)(3)

Financial Affidavit Forms

  1. Family Law Financial Affidavit (Short Form) – Form 12.902(b)
  2. Family Law Financial Affidavit (Long Form) – Form 12.902(c)

Forms for Child(ren) and Parenting

  1. Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit – Form 12.902(d)
  2. Child Support Guidelines Worksheet – Form 12.902(e)
  3. Parenting Plan – Form 12.995(a)
  4. Notice of Social Security Number – Form 12.902(j)

Marital Settlement Agreement Forms

  1. Marital Settlement Agreement for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren) – Form 12.902(f)(1)
  2. Marital Settlement Agreement for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Child(ren) – Form 12.902(f)(2)
  3. Marital Settlement Agreement for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage – Form 12.902(f)(3)

Final Judgment Forms

  1. Final Judgment of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage – Form 12.990(a)
  2. Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren) – Form 12.990(b)(1)
  3. Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Child(ren) – Form 12.990(b)(2)
  4. Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with No Property or Dependent or Minor Child(ren) – Form 12.990(b)(3)

Other Commonly Used Forms

  1. Answer, Waiver, and Request for Copy of Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage – Form 12.903(a)
  2. Notice of Current Address – Form 12.915
  3. Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure – Form 12.932
  4. Notice of Hearing (General) – Form 12.923
  5. Family Law Interrogatories for Original or Enforcement Proceedings – Form 12.930(b)
  6. Motion for Temporary Support and Time Sharing with Dependent or Minor Child(ren) – Form 12.947(a)

Forms for Modification Post-Divorce

  1. Supplemental Petition for Modification of Alimony – Form 12.905(b)
  2. Supplemental Petition for Modification of Child Support – Form 12.905(a)
  3. Supplemental Petition for Modification of Parenting Plan/Time-Sharing Schedule and Other Relief – Form 12.905(c)

Miscellaneous Forms

  1. Affidavit of Corroborating Witness – Form 12.902(i)
  2. Cover Sheet for Family Court Cases – Form 12.928
  3. Motion to Deviate from Child Support Guidelines – Form 12.943

These forms and their instructions can be accessed on the Florida Courts’ website. It’s important to use the correct form and follow the instructions carefully. If you have any doubts, it’s advisable to seek legal assistance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Different people face different challenges, depending upon their individual circumstances. Common concerns when considering divorce include:

  • Money: “I am ready for divorce, but how can I afford a lawyer?”
  • Grief: “How can I move on when I’m not ready to let go?”
  • Expectations: “Why can’t I get everything I want out of this divorce?”
  • The future: “Where will I go from here?”

You can always start the divorce process without your spouse. However, there are certain aspects of divorce in which a spouse needs to be involved, such as hiring a mediator, parenting coordinator, co-parenting coach.

Online access and virtual consultations allow you to learn about the divorce process on your own time. Not everyone is ready to meet with a lawyer. Not everyone has the same schedule or availability. DivorcePlus puts you in control.

If you are curious about the process and want trustworthy information, we make that available to you for free. And if you are ready for the next step, our professional service providers are here and ready when you are.

We recommend that you start keeping a diary as soon as possible. A clear record and timeline of events can be very useful down the line. The more information, the better.

If you are happy with your divorce lawyer, stay with them. Our free resources address common divorce concerns so you won’t have to pay for as much time with your lawyer. We also provide a wide range of professional services if you’re looking for a little extra guidance.

Listen.

During the divorce process, some people ask questions and then ignore answers they don’t like. Keep in mind, even when you don’t like an answer, there are always ways to work through the process.

Trust your lawyer to help get you where you want to be. The best pathway forward is to listen and learn how to work with the law.

Unlike other legal websites that charge monthly subscription fees for access to general information on all areas of law, DivorcePlus specializes in providing  free online legal and divorce educational resources without any cost to you. You only pay for professional divorce services when you need them.

An online divorce is exactly what it sounds like. During the covid-19 pandemic, most States and Courts implemented laws and procedures that permit individuals to file and obtain their divorce online! But that doesn’t help if you still have to meet with a legal professional in person. The DivorcePlus professional marketplace gives you the ability to locate an attorney in your State and find out if an online divorce is right for you.

Note: This information contained here is not legal advice and should not be relied upon a legal source; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  It’s important to keep in mind that legal statutes can be subject to amendments and interpretations. For the most current and detailed legal information, it’s advisable to consult the actual statutes or a legal professional.