Florida divorce details
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Uncontested vs Contested Divorce in Florida
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses should negotiate and resolve all issues related to marital property, debts, and custody of minor children. All these details should be settled in a signed "marital settlement agreement". Both spouses also need to complete a financial affidavit, even if you have no property. The petitioner and sometimes the respondent typically attend the final divorce hearing. An uncontested divorce can have the paperwork done online or by yourself.
In a contested divorce, after one spouse files divorce papers and the other spouse answers, they go to trial, a judge deciding all the contentious issues of the case. The petitioner, must attend the final hearing. If you anticipate having a contested divorce, it makes sense to seek the partial or full assistance of a lawyer.
Uncontested Divorce in Florida
When a couple can decide amicably the division of property, debts, child support, etc. and sign a mutual agreement, to present to the court, their case is uncontested.
Each spouse may file a Petition for divorce through the circuit court in the country either where he/she lives or in the country where the couple had lived together. The petition should list what the petitioner wants the court to order.
After a spouse is served the Petition, he or she has 20 days to respond and may file a response or counter-petition (indicating that he or she also wants the divorce).
Within 45 days of service of process, the petitioner must deliver to the respondent a signed Financial Affidavit (it details typical financial factors in a marriage) which provides a complete financial portrait the respondent and court need.
After filing, there is typically a 20-day wait period before a court hearing. The final hearing itself may be characterized as a stressless atmosphere. Generally, uncontested divorces can be often finalized in a matter of weeks.
An uncontested divorce is advantagious and helps avoid lifetime grudge match. There are no official statistics, but contested cases may often produce a stream of court litigation due to disputes. Both parties may be angry with the case and tend to feel the outcome was unfair and unjust.
Grounds for Divorce in Florida
Florida is no-fault state, with two grounds for divorce: an irretrievably broken marriage or mental incapacity.
- The marriage is irretrievably broken.
It is only necessary for one spouse to allege in the Petition that there is an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship and for a divorce to be granted. If the other party denies that the marriage is broken, the result may be a 90-day cooling-off period (time to give couple the opportunity to resolve existing differences and maybe repair the marriage). If the husband or wife cannot resolve their disagreements in that period, typically, a divorce decree can be issued by the court.
- Mental incapacity.
The second ground is mental incapacity of one of the parties for a period of at least three years.
Reasons such as adultery are not grounds for divorce in Florida, although it may influence other issues such as equitable distribution and alimony.
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Florida Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
Residency requirements for at Florida divorce are that at least one spouse must be a resident of Florida for six months before filing the petition of dissolution, which can be filed in the county where either spouse resides, or the county where the spouses last lived together prior to separating.
Residency can be established by proving two things:
- You were physically present in Florida. (But that does not mean you never traveled outside the state during the six month period).
- You intended during that time to make Florida your primary residence.
Some facts that can be used as proof that you intended to reside in Florida:
- Signing a lease or purchasing a home;
- Obtaining permanent employment in Florida;
- Joining a church, country club, or other social organizations in Florida;
- Obtaining a Florida driver’s license or auto registration;
- Filing state taxes in Florida.
How to File an Uncontested Divorce in Florida?
When important marital and child-related issues are resolved (or in the process) you can start your uncontested divorce process.
- Prepare the Paperwork
In seeking an uncontested divorce, be prepared to deal with the paperwork. The amount of paperwork you will need to file will vary depending on the specific circumstances of your divorce. For example, if you have children under the age of 18, then you will be required to submit a detailed parenting plan, as well as your child support agreement.
To obtain an uncontested divorce, a spouse must first prepare a petition and file it with the circuit court clerk’s office. Other documents must also be prepared and filed. Even though it is a no-fault and amicable case, it is important for all the agreements to be in writing. Each spouse must sign and have them notarized.
A final judgement will be signed by the judge for the divorce to be finalized.
- Attend the Divorce Hearing
Once an uncontested divorce case nears its conclusion, a final hearing will be scheduled. This is a very important part of the process, but an uncontested divorce hearing usually is relatively smooth and painless.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Florida
Reaching agreements with your spouse before you file for divorce, may make the process simple enough that you do not require professional legal counsel. In many uncontested, simplified divorces in Florida, you can represent yourself, saving time and money.
You can usually get fill-in-the-blank forms at your local courthouse or the local law library. But another way is an online resource like us, where you can get the court forms along with useful information guiding you through filling out the forms and helping you do-it-yourself.
With the assistance of out online divorce service, you can answer questions about the nature of your divorce, and you will be supplied with the necessary documents to file with the court and obtain a divorce. Moreover, we offer online support and review your completed forms.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
If you feel comfortable handling the matter yourself and you don’t mind doing a little research into your state’s legal procedures, you might spend less than $500. If you hire an attorney to take care of the details for you, that figure will likely increase substantially.
An uncontested divorce even with attorney’s fees, for the most part, is generally cheaper than a contested divorce. Those fees can quickly reach $4,000 or more. For the most accurate information on divorce costs, you really can’t get an answer until you speak directly with an attorney who deals in divorce and family law on a regular basis.
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Florida?
An average duration of a divorce process also depends on whether it is contested or not.
A contested divorce in Florida typically takes 15 months, 4 months longer than the 11-month national average, but it generally range from 7 to 20 months. A divorce where custody is an issue can take even longer.
An uncontested divorce can take as little as four to five weeks because a waiting period between filing the Petition and final hearing in Florida requires a minimum of 20 days.
How to Serve Your Spouse in Florida
First, no matter where your spouse lives, you personally can not serve your spouse with divorce papers. In most cases, you need to have a sheriff or a private service processor serve the papers.
If your spouse lives in a different county in Florida, you may need to ask the clerk to send the materials to the Sheriff’s office for that county, or you can seek a private service processor certified in that county.
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Papers & Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Florida
Following is a basic list of required forms for an uncontested divorce without considering children-related issues:
- Civil Cover Sheet
Includes general information about the spouses in the divorce proceeding.
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
It states that you want a divorce and what you want the Court to order. It is filed by the petitioner, provides information about your marriage and requests that a judge grant your divorce and issue an Order dissolving your marriage.
- Marital Settlement Agreement
This agreement is helps the parties allocate property, finances and matters relating to child custody and visitation. Most courts will require a Marital Settlement Agreement filed in conjunction with a Petition within the State of Florida.
- Financial Affidavit
It is a statement of your income, expenses, and assets. Both parties must file and serve a financial affidavit in a divorce case.
The original completed and signed forms will be filed with the clerk and pay the filing fee. You should be contacted regarding a court date.
Online Divorce in Florida
Online divorce is typically uncontested and no-fault.
You should follow the same steps and file the same forms as an uncontested divorce, but you receive them online. The short interview provided by our online-divorce service helps you choose the relevant forms appropriate for your situation.
You can also receive online help from a paralegal or legal assistant to figure out details, or you can still hire an attorney to assist you.
Online divorce is becoming increasingly popular due to its low cost, short time-frame, and simplicity.
Normally the final hearing is when the divorce will be granted and all issues will be decided. If you do not go to the final hearing your case may be dismissed.
After hearing evidence, the judge will make a decision and sign a final judgment which will contain the details of your divorce and the court’s decision and may incorporate your Marital Settlement Agreement. The copy of your divorce order will be given to you.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Florida
The amount of child support must be calculated pursuant to the Florida Child Support Statute. Courts can award temporary child support shortly after a court case is filed, and the order is enforceable until there is a new order or until the final divorce hearing when permanent support will be ordered. Failure to pay child support can lead to, among other things, a finding of contempt/jail and loss of driver's' license or other licenses.
The parents' combined net income is used in the statutory formula to determine the amount of child support, after considering the number of children involved. The paying party's part is calculated in proportion to the other parent's income. Also, child care (day care) expenses are added, as is health insurance and health care costs.
Florida Child Support Statute has abolished the presumption for or against the father or mother, as well as for or against any specific time-sharing schedules when creating or modifying parenting plans for children.
If there are children, the uncontested case also includes a detailed parenting plan. Parenting plans detail where the children will live, sleep, go to school, and where they will spend certain holidays. Many judges especially appreciate parents able to negotiate their own parenting agreement. Most family law professionals believe parents able to negotiate their own uncontested parenting plan have a high degree of success in future co-parenting.
In general, courts try to strike a balance between the work schedule of the parents and the needs of the child. The goal, of course, is the best interests of the child and for the child to foster a warm relationship with both parents.
When there is no amicable separation, a third-party may assist in the situation such as supervised visitation. Supervised visitation may be necessary where one party claims that it is unsafe for the child to be alone with the other parent.
Rules for Spousal Support in Florida
Alimony or spousal support may be ordered for one spouse to pay to the other in a divorce. A purpose of alimony is to alleviate any unfair economic burdens that may befall the lower-wage-earning spouse or the non-wage-earning after a separation or divorce.
In Florida, alimony is determined after the court has equitably distributed the couple's assets and liabilities. After that division is made, the court will consider whether alimony ought to be paid, by whom, and what amount, if any. Spousal support can be granted to either the husband or the wife.
Division of Property in Florida
The general rule is that Florida is an equitable distribution state, and marital property, property acquired during the marriage with marital funds or labor, will be divided equally upon divorce (unless there is a reason for an unequal division). Nonmarital property and assets acquired before the marriage typically, remains the sole and separate property of that spouse upon divorce.
Courts allow for unequal distribution of marital assets in instances such as marital misconduct, waste of marital assets, etc. These situations can arise in instances where marital funds have been spent on an extramarital affair, were gambled away, or used to support an alcohol or drug addiction. Marital misconduct alone is often not enough for a court to award an unequal distribution, rather there is often be a depletion of marital assets.
Division of Debt in Florida
Divorce involves not only property division, but also debts. This includes credit card debts and a home mortgage. Debts will need to be divided up during the divorce process.
Divorce Mediation in Florida
Mediation is recommended in Florida, and some courts may even require it. Mediation is not necessarily an attempt at marriage reconciliation, rather it is a procedure aimed to help you and your spouse reach an agreement without needing a trial or protracted process, which can be expensive. A mediation can be conducted by court-connected services or a privately trained mediator.
Mediation is suitable for an uncontested divorce. It may fulfill a psychological function when it is important to learn to negotiate, go through this difficult period in a civilized way, and not miss important details because of quarrels and misunderstandings.
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How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Florida
If standard methods to serve the spouse with divorce paperwork are not successful, and he or she cannot be found after the Petitioner makes a diligent search, then a special form (an Affidavit of Diligent Search) is used to confirm that a petitioner has made a diligent effort to locate his or her partner.
Also a Notice of Action for Dissolution of Marriage is published once a week for four weeks in a newspaper that specializes in publishing classified legal advertisements. This step is called Service by Publication. Assuming the missing spouse still does not respond within 28 days, the Petitioner can file a Default, and divorce action proceeds as a default divorce.
Default Divorce in Florida
In a divorce process, the respondent must typically file an answer by confirming or disputing the facts and terms of the petition. If the respondent doesn't file an answer, a motion for default allows the petitioner to complete the divorce without the other party's participation.
A notice of default may be filed only after the 20 days from serving the divorce petition on the other spouse. The notice is served on the other spouse personally, and the server then files proof of service with the court.
Annulment of the Marriage in Florida
The state of Florida recognizes an annulment but does not have an annulment statute. The laws regarding annulment are only established by common law decisions of court proceedings. Annulments are very difficult to establish due to the necessary court proceedings and burdens of proof; this is why some parties may seek divorce even if they have applicable grounds for annulment. Florida law provides that a void marriage can be annulled. A void marriage is a marriage that was always wrong in terms of the law. For example:
- Underage marriage (because Florida law forbids marriage by any party under the age of 18 without the consent of the minor's parent or guardian or court approval);
- Fraud or Duress. The grounds for proving a fraudulent marriage include showing you were convinced to enter the marriage under false pretenses (for example, if your spouse knowingly lied about his ability to have children, it is also considered a fraudulent marriage);
- Mental incapacity of either party;
- Physical disability affecting sexual life;
- Marriage under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
Legal Separation in Florida
Florida has no formal procedure for legal separation in contrast to the majority of states. But the parties can enter into a written agreement for issues such as property division, custody, and support.
Legal separation means that spouses choose not to divorce, perhaps for religious reasons or if they want a temporary separation to see if they can resolve their differences. A court order deals with the same issues that an order of dissolution does. It can include child custody, visitation, and support; where the parties will live; who will pay the bills; and whether spousal support will be paid.
Same-Sex Divorce in Florida
Marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in Florida. Florida became the 36th state that allow same-sex marriage, so the same-sex divorce was legalized too.
Divorcing same-sex couples are treated the same as divorcing heterosexual couples, so they meet the same issues and problems about child custody, marital assets division, etc. which many couples have faced for years.
Military Divorce in Florida
The active duty spouse must be personally served with a summons and a copy of the divorce petition for a Florida court to have jurisdiction over the active military member. In an uncontested dissolution, the active duty spouse may not have to be served as long as he or she signs and files a waiver affidavit acknowledging the divorce action.
There are some differences in the residency requirements for those in active duty: you or your spouse must reside in Florida, or you or your spouse must be stationed in Florida.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Florida
Incarceration is an issue that can cause severe ruptures in relationships. To divorce an encarcerated spouse you should make a list of all the assets you own (both separate and common property). Obtaining ownership proof for your assets is essential because you will need to submit it to the court during your hearing.
With the divorce petition forms you should provide all the information about your spouse’s imprisonment, with details such as the jail’s location and the term of the sentence. This will help the authorities find your spouse and serve him/her the divorce papers.
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Florida Divorce Filing Fee
Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using DivorceFiller.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.
Can a Filing Fee be Waived?
The answer is yes. You may apply for a waiver by filing an application for a civil indigency waiver (filing fee waiver). If you are unable to pay this fee, you should provide information why (such as total salary and wages minus deductions, liabilities and debts). You may only to pay a one-time administrative fee of $25.
Such conditions are set forth in Civil Practice and Procedure Code, “Determination of civil indigent status.”
How We Can Help
We provide you guidance in filling out the forms in an uncontested divorce in Florida while considering your certain case. After an online interview, we will have enough information about what divorce option may be best for you. We can help you choose the right paperwork kit, and then we will review your forms. You can get completed, ready-to-sign forms quickly and with little-to-no stress.
We can easily be contacted to answer questions you may have.
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