For many people, filing for a divorce is the hardest thing they'll ever do. Not only is divorce incredibly emotionally draining, but it can also be financially costly—the average US divorce costs around $13,000. Understanding your options regarding filing for divorce in Florida enables you to pursue an optimal outcome in your divorce.
At the Law Offices of Jason K.S Porter, P.A., we're proud to offer our clients divorce services they can rely on. We'll advocate for your rights in and out of the courtroom, fighting to help you pursue your best interests in your divorce.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (904) 701-0591.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in FL?
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you don't need to cite any specific reason for your divorce. You only need to cite that your marriage is "irretrievably broken" to file for divorce.
However, it is worth noting that if alimony plays a role in your divorce case, the court may still take fault into account. For example, if your spouse committed an act like domestic violence, the court may take that into account when calculating the amount of alimony you owe or are paid.
To file for a divorce in Florida, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for six months prior to filing for divorce.
Are There Different Types of Divorce in Florida?
Yes, there are two general types of divorce in Florida: A simplified dissolution of marriage, and a regular dissolution of marriage.
Filing for a simplified dissolution of marriage greatly streamlines the path towards divorce. To file for a simplified dissolution, you and/or your spouse must:
- Have resided in Florida for at least six months prior to filing;
- Agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken;
- Not share any children under the age of 18, or have children who depend on the marriage for their own livelihood;
- Must not be pregnant while filing for divorce;
- Not request alimony from one another;
- Must file financial affidavits disclosing the entirety of your separate and marital property;
- Must agree on how to divide your marital property, and;
- Must agree to give up the right to request a trial or appeal for your divorce outcome, among other things.
If you meet these requirements, you can go to your county family law court and request simplified dissolution of marriage documents. You and your spouse must then fill them out, file them with the court, and appear before the court.
During your appearance, a judge will examine the forms to ensure they're legally sound and the proposed agreement is fair to both parties. If the judge approves of the forms, they will sign a divorce decree, finalizing the divorce.
However, many couples fail to meet the requirements to file for a simplified dissolution of marriage. If you cannot file for a simplified dissolution of marriage, you instead must file for a regular dissolution of marriage.
How a regular dissolution of marriage looks varies on a case-by-case basis, depending on whether the marriage is contested or uncontested.
In a contested divorce, the parties disagree on terms for various divorce-related processes such as alimony, property division, child support and custody, etc. In contrast, in an uncontested divorce, the parties agree on how to handle all divorce-related processes.
Typically, the process for an uncontested regular dissolution of marriage in FL looks something like this:
- One party, the petitioner, files a regular dissolution of marriage with the court. In the forms, the petitioner details the terms they seek for property division, alimony, child support, and child custody.
- The petitioner serves their spouse (the respondent) with the dissolution of marriage forms.
- The spouse has the opportunity to file a response and detail whether they agree with the terms proposed by the petitioner. In an uncontested marriage, they typically will.
- The spouses develop and sign a settlement agreement detailing the terms for the divorce. This can also happen before the petitioner files for divorce if the parties wish.
- The court looks over the settlement agreement to ensure it's legally sound.
- The judge signs the settlement agreement, finalizing the divorce.
Filing for a contested divorce, on the other hand, is typically much more complex:
- The process starts off the same, with the petitioner filing for divorce and serving the respondent. However, in an uncontested divorce, the respondent states that they disagree with the proposed terms and files a response to the divorce petition.
- At this stage, the judge may ask the parties to go through mediation to resolve their differences.
- If mediation fails, the court will hold temporary order hearings to decide how the spouse should handle certain processes, such as child custody, while the divorce occurs.
- Finally, the two parties attend a trial. During the trial, the judge hears arguments from each spouse's legal representative (assuming neither self-represent) concerning the circumstances of the divorce and appropriate outcomes for divorce-related processes. The judge will make a final decision on any processes the spouses cannot agree on, deciding the issue on behalf of the parties.
- Finally, the judge will draft a divorce decree laying out the terms of the divorce. Once the judge signs the decree, the divorce is finalized, and the outcome cannot change unless one of the parties successfully appeals the divorce order.
What's the Best Option for Me?
Whether you should file for a contested or uncontested dissolution of marriage largely depends on the circumstances of your case. Both have pros and cons. For example, filing for an uncontested divorce is typically significantly cheaper and can be a better option if you agree with your spouse on how to resolve the divorce. Alternatively, filing for a contested divorce can give you more protection from the court itself (which is key in divorces where domestic violence or similar factors play a role in the case).
The best way to achieve a positive outcome in your divorce is by utilizing the aid of an experienced divorce attorney. At the Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A., we'll help you protect your rights and pursue an optimal outcome in your divorce case.
To schedule a consultation with our team or learn more about our services and your options for divorce, contact us online or via phone at (904) 701-0591.