Steps to Getting a Divorce in Florida: Essential Information to Know

The decision to file for a divorce is often stressful. There are so many things to consider which can easily overwhelm anyone. However, it is possible to turn divorce into an organized and fully controlled process.

Every state has its own set of laws regarding divorce, and knowing this information can considerably simplify the divorce process. This article features the main steps for getting a divorce in the state of Florida.

Go With an Attorney or by Yourself?

A person who decides to get divorced should consider how to proceed: hire a lawyer or do it yourself.

In the first scenario, an attorney will guide you through the whole process. In the second scenario, it is essential to understand the family law of Florida and what steps should be taken because you’ll have to do everything on your own.

Essential Information to Know

Before filing for divorce, a petitioner needs to make sure that they meet Florida’s residency requirements. One of the spouses must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months before filing.

Florida is purely a “no-fault” state and does not recognize fault-based grounds for divorce. It means that the divorce process can begin if one of the partners states that the marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be repaired.

Another “no-fault” ground for divorce is if one of the spouses has been declared mentally unstable by a judge for at least 3 years before the divorce process.

Though a spouse’s fault isn’t used to start the process, a judge may still consider any evidence of partner’s misconduct when making decisions regarding child custody, alimony, etc.

The state of Florida has special legal procedures that can simplify the divorce process: regular and simplified dissolution of marriage.

Regular Dissolution of Marriage

The first option begins when a person files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the court. This document outlines the petitioner’s grounds for divorce and requests regarding important issues such as property division, etc.

This document has to be served to the other party, who can answer the petition to agree or disagree with divorce terms. In case of differences, spouses can try to sort them out by themselves or with a mediator. If they cannot agree, the divorce becomes contested and involves a judge.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

The second option is a more convenient way to get a divorce. In this case, both partners file the divorce papers and appear in court together for the divorce to be granted. However, there are some requirements to be met:

  • Spouses agree that marriage is beyond repair;
  • They have no minor children and do not expect any;
  • No party requires alimony;
  • Both partners have a written agreement regarding the division of property and liabilities;
  • Both partners agree to give up the right to trial and appeal.

Steps to Get a Divorce

This section is for people who are going for the DIY divorce scenario without an attorney. The following information will detail the steps to take to get an uncontested divorce.

Prepare Paperwork

It is possible to find a list of all the required divorce forms on Florida’s Family Law Self-Help Center website. The petitioner should carefully review the information as different documents are needed if the couple has children.

If the person filing for divorce is unsure how to fill out documents properly, online divorce paperwork assistance companies are highly useful. They allow users to fill out and generate all the necessary documents easily. The paperwork is ready within several business days and is 100% court-ready.

File Papers

Filing for divorce begins when the petitioner brings the prepared and notarized documents to the local county’s circuit court clerk’s office. The clerk accepts the forms after payment of the filing fee. There is an option to request a fee waiver based on financial struggles.

It is important to make at least two copies of the signed documents, one to keep and the other for the partner.

Serve Papers

A copy of signed documents has to be served to the other party. There are several ways to do this:

  • Have a county sheriff serve the papers;
  • Hire a process server;
  • Post a notice that the respondent is being served in the newspaper (if it is impossible to locate the receiving party).

After receiving the confirmation that the papers have been served, the petitioner may proceed to the final stages of the divorce process.

Court Procedure

The final court hearing for an uncontested divorce in Florida is rather simple and straightforward. The petitioner has to appear in court with the Final Decree document. The judge makes sure that all the necessary papers are filled out properly, asks some questions regarding the information in the papers, and signs the Final Decree. This document needs to be filed with the clerk, and then the divorce is finalized.

Bottom Line

The state of Florida provides enough instruments to make an uncontested divorce as easy as possible. All the steps described in this article are pretty straightforward. However, if you are confused or unsure about something, it might be better to seek professional legal advice.