How To Get A Divorce in Florida
By the time you’ve come to the difficult decision of getting a divorce, the last thing you want to think about is navigating the state’s potentially expensive and complicated process. Getting a divorce in Florida isn’t always a hassle, but the state’s rules make the procedure confusing. How you start the divorce process in Florida depends on your circumstances.
Florida is a No-Fault State
Florida is classified as a purely no-fault divorce state, which means that the courts are not going to assign fault in the divorce to either party. You may feel as if your spouse has done something wrong or unforgivable to hurt you, but that doesn’t legally matter for divorce in Florida. In general, the fact that a marriage is broken beyond repair is all that must be said to satisfy the courts. Alternatively, you may show that your spouse has been mentally incapacitated for a period of at least three years.
How to Start the Divorce Process in Florida
When you decide to get a divorce in Florida, one or both spouses must file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.” The forms are filed in the circuit court in the county in which you live, and you must have been a resident of that county for a minimum of six months before filing for divorce.
If you are the spouse that is filing the Petition, you are considered the “petitioner,” and your spouse is the “respondent.” There are two ways to file for divorce in Florida – a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage and a Regular Dissolution of Marriage.
Simplified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
A Simplified Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is a request for an uncontested divorce in Florida. This is a form that both you and your spouse complete and file together, where you are both referred to as “petitioners.” This is the most amicable way to get a Florida divorce, but it is only available to couples that meet these requirements:
- You both agree to use this type of divorce proceeding
- You have no children together under the age of 18, including through adoption
- Neither spouse is pregnant
- Neither party is asking for alimony
- Both parties agree to the division of assets and liabilities
- You or your spouse have been a Florida resident for at least the last six months
- Both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken
If you fail to meet just one of these requirements, you will need to file for a Regular Dissolution of Marriage.
Regular Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
Also referred to as a contested divorce, a Regular Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is necessary if you or your spouse have minor children or fail to agree on such things as the division of assets and liabilities or issues involving custody and support. Once your family law attorney files the Petition or receives notice from the other spouse of a filing, this is when negotiations can begin.
Most parties can reach an amicable settlement through their attorneys without having to go to trial. During these proceedings, there may an exchange of documents related to finances as well as depositions. Once a settlement is reached, it is placed before the court for final approval.
Speak with an Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney Now
When you want to get a divorce in Florida, one of the last things you need is additional worries about the steps in a divorce process. Most likely, you’d rather focus on rebuilding the life that you will have after the divorce is final. In other words, you want to be able to devote your attention to your “fresh start” while a qualified Florida divorce attorney handles the procedural aspects of your divorce.
If you are considering filing for divorce in Florida, the process can be overwhelming at best. Most divorces revolve around contested and contentious areas that are unlikely to end in an amicable settlement without help. Crystal Collins Spencer, Attorney at Law, understands the complex issues that can arise in a Florida divorce and has spent more than 30 years representing both petitioners and respondents in the state’s panhandle. Contact our office today at (850) 912-8080 or online to schedule a free confidential consultation.