Marriages are complex and everyone doesn’t always get a happily ever after. You may get into irreconcilable differences with your partner.
They may also engage in infidelity. Whatever the reason, you may want to separate from your spouse immediately.
So it is important to know how to file for divorce in Florida. Let’s look at everything you need to know about the dissolution of marriage in this state.
Options For The Dissolution Of Marriage
There are many ways for the dissolution of marriage in Florida. You can reach a mutual agreement with your spouse to avoid extensive legal troubles.
It is also possible to get a divorce through court if you cannot reach an amicable agreement with your spouse. Let’s look at the top three options for the dissolution of marriage in Florida:
- Hire an attorney and get a divorce through court
- Use a service provider that manages Florida online divorce processes
- Submit all paperwork yourself and get a divorce in Florida without a lawyer’s help.
A key thing you must remember about a Florida online divorce is that it must be an uncontested divorce. Such service providers give you completed forms and help you get a divorce without any mediation.
Grounds For Divorce In Florida
Florida has a no-fault rule for divorce processes. This means you don’t have to prove if the other party was at fault.
For example, you will not have to give evidence of fault if your partner cheated on you which is the reason you want a divorce.
That is why there are only two grounds for couples to separate in this state. Let’s look at the two requirements you must meet for divorce in Florida:
Divorce In Florida Is Allowed If A Marriage Cannot Be Repaired
If you meet one of the grounds for divorce in Florida, you will have no problem separating from your spouse. The first criterion is that your marriage must be beyond your repair.
This means you and your partner are unable to resolve your issues. Some states use irreconcilable differences to describe the same rule. There may be many reasons behind a completely broken marriage.
Your partner may have been cheating on you for years. They may also be controlling your life excessively and disturbing your mental peace.
Incompatibility reasons may also break your marriage beyond repair. You may hire a divorce lawyer in Florida for the dissolution of such a marriage.
Your Partner Must Be Mentally Incapacitated To Get A Divorce In Florida
Another ground for divorce in Florida is that your partner is mentally unstable. The Florida divorce process under this ground is relatively complex to avoid unjustified separations.
If you aim to get a divorce in Florida for this reason, you must prepare three years before the actual proceedings. The laws of this state require proper evaluation of your partner.
Once the evaluation is done by a judge they will label your spouse to be mentally incapacitated. You can then file for a divorce in Florida three years after that.
As the filing party, you will have to send a notice to the guardian or closest relative of your partner. If there is no other family besides you, the court will appoint a guardian.
An advocate is appointed to your spouse to defend their interests and ensure the divorce occurs according to law.
If you try to get your healthy spouse labeled as mentally incapacitated, you may suffer from other legal consequences. A healthy label will also make it impossible for you to get a divorce on this ground.
How To File For Divorce In Florida Without A Family Lawyer
Filing for a divorce in Florida is easy if you know the correct process. Having this knowledge may come in handy when you’re in dire need of a divorce due to challenges caused by your partner at home.
So here are the steps you must follow to get a divorce in Florida:
Step 1: File A Petition
The first step to getting a divorce in Florida is filing a petition for the divorce. You will have to fulfill all the requirements set by state laws before you submit the paperwork and start your Florida divorce process.
You must ensure that you or your spouse has been living in this state for at least six months before the divorce filing. Proving residency in Florida is easy if you have one of the following documents:
- A Florida driver’s license
- Identity card
- Voter registration card
- Affidavit from a reliable person that you have lived in this state for six months or more
If you fulfill these requirements, you must also ensure you meet one of the earlier grounds for divorce in Florida. For example, if the reason for divorce is an irreparably broken marriage, you must mention it.
Once you file the petition, you will be referred to as the petitioner throughout your Florida divorce process. Filing for separation may be tricky without a lawyer.
However, it is not impossible to get a divorce in Florida without a family attorney. This is especially true if you and your partner agree on matters such as financial and property division.
Step 2: Wait For Twenty Days For Your Spouse To File An Answer
After filing the original petition, you will have to serve papers to your spouse. Serving papers means you must notify your partner by sending an official document.
Remember you cannot serve the papers on your own. It is mandatory to hire someone such as the sheriff of the region or a process server. You will have to pay the fee of the person out of your pocket.
Your spouse will be referred to as the respondent after you file the petition. The state law gives the other party 20 days to let you know their response after getting served. They must mention the parts of the petition they agree or disagree on.
If they don’t have any knowledge of the divorce, they will mention that. They can also counter your petition to bring other issues to the surface.
You will get the same time window to reply to the respondent if your partner has other issues. Remember every time you sign a petition document, you must do it in front of a notary.
It is also necessary to send copies of that document to the other party in the divorce. Once a final petition is reached you will have to file the document to a court clerk.
Step 3: Fill Out All The Required Paperwork After The Response
Besides the petition, you must fill out other paperwork to get a divorce in Florida. Remember if you don’t submit the correct documents, the court can reject your divorce request immediately.
One of the things you must submit is a financial affidavit within 45 days of submitting the petition. If you and your partner have kids, you must also file a guideline worksheet for child support reasons.
Meanwhile, a uniform custody and jurisdiction affidavit is also necessary to file if you have minor kids. You may hire or consult a family lawyer to understand the paperwork process for divorce in Florida.
They can let you know the necessary documents you must collect and submit if you consult with them. If you hire a lawyer, they will do all these things to relieve your burden and help you focus on other things.
You must also settle the marital agreement with your spouse. This should include important information such as property division, health insurance, life insurance policies, and retirement benefits.
The more comprehensive you are with the details, the easier it will be to get a divorce in Florida without a lawyer. That is because complete information prevents the other party from pointing out issues.
Step 4: Financial Disclosure To The Other Party
Some people believe they only have to disclose their financial information to the court for the dissolution of marriage. However, that is not the case. You also have to inform your spouse of your financial information.
It is necessary to give different documents to your partner for this purpose such as:
- Income proof
- How many bank accounts do you have
- Retirement saving accounts
- Debt statements
- Credit card returns
- Tax returns
Remember this is not solely applicable for the petitioner. Even your spouse will have to provide you with their financial documents and other details.
Both parties must be well-informed to negotiate easily and reach an agreement beneficial to both. There have been many cases in the past where spouses transfer their debt to the other party without proper disclosure.
Financial disclosure is one of the difficult aspects of divorce in Florida because of the requirement of many documents. You may also have to a value for your all assets.
Typically, lawyers make this process significantly easier because they take the burden on themselves. Without an attorney, you must be thorough with the documents you offer to your spouse.
If any document is lacking, your Florida divorce process will suffer from delays.
Step 5: Opt For Divorce Mediation If You Can’t Agree On Matters
Every couple does not get divorced in Florida by reaching a mutual agreement. Sometimes you may fight on things such as property division, alimony, and child support. Your partner may also not budge on specific issues.
In such cases, you may need a mediator to help you reach a suitable agreement with your partner. Remember, this individual must be an external unbiased party. The mediator does not necessarily have to be a lawyer.
Even if you hire a lawyer to be a mediator, they must be unbiased to both parties. The third party will talk to you and your partner to know your demands. They may also convince you to get into a room together.
A mediator is also a good alternative if you want to save costs by hiring a full-time lawyer. The person will only help you form an agreement and not file paperwork or represent you in court.
This is why their overall fees are lower than the bills of full-time divorce lawyers. Once the mediator creates a settlement agreement between you and your spouse, you can submit it to the court.
The court will then decide on a hearing date if all the filed paperwork is complete.
Step 6: Create Parenting Arrangements (If Children Are Involved)
One of the worst cons of divorce in Florida is that your kids may suffer if you don’t create proper arrangements. You and your spouse will have to sit together to develop a future plan.
For example, who wants custody and how time division should happen if both parties want to be with their children. There is also a specific requirement for parents with minor kids getting a divorce in Florida.
Every resident of Florida and out-of-state people getting a divorce here must fulfill this legal requirement. Every parent has to sign up for a parent education and family stabilization course by the government.
This is a legally-approved course of four hours for parents with minor kids. You and your partner will have to attend the classes. The best thing is that these are online courses available 24 hours a week.
The main purpose of this course is to train and help parents in offering stability to their kids after a divorce in Florida. It aims to reduce the negative emotional impact children suffer from after their parents get divorced.
You and your spouse will have to complete the course separately and inform the court. By this step everything will be sorted, so you will mainly have to wait for the dissolution of marriage hearing date.
Step 7: Trial For The Dissolution Of Marriage Before A Judge
Whether you’re having an uncontested or contested divorce, there will always be a final court hearing. The trial requires the petitioner to be present for the decision. However, the respondent does not necessarily have to arrive.
Once a court clerk informs you of the hearing date, you must send a notice of it to your spouse. You must arrive at the relevant day a bit earlier than the actual hearing time. If you have to file any paperwork, you must take the documents with you.
It is also important to carry a final disposition to court. The judge will review all your settlement agreements and may ask you to prove your residency or time of stay in Florida.
An uncontested divorce hearing is usually brief and does not present any issues unless you file incomplete paperwork. For contested divorces, the court may set more hearings to dive into the depths of the case.
The final thing you will have to do in court is the divorce decree. If two spouses agree, the petitioner will fill out the document and sign it. You must also file the disposition form you brought with you along with the decree form to the court clerk.
Submitting these documents will finalize your divorce in Florida and you can leave the court with a single status.
What Is The Cost Of Divorce In Florida?
The average cost of divorce in Florida is $7,410 with a lawyer. You will have to pay a median filing fee of $409 or more, depending on the paperwork of your Florida divorce process.
Meanwhile, the average lawyer fee in this state is $50.17. Florida is one of the most expensive states to get a divorce in. This is why you may want to sign prenup agreements before getting married in this state.
It can help you avoid suffering from huge divorce losses if you get divorced in Florida later.
Alimony In Florida
Alimony is typically called spousal support in Florida. It is usually given to a person if they have been married for 10 years or more. The court will also take some measures to determine whether the person seeking alimony needs it.
The judge will also consider whether the other party can pay the relevant alimony amount. Many other factors will also be taken into consideration such as:
- Living standards of the couple during the marriage
- Marriage duration
- The age and mental condition of both people
- Financial resources of you and your spouse
- Earning capacity and employment status of both parties
- Responsibility for minor children
Property Division In Florida
One of the toughest matters to discuss during a quick divorce in Florida is property division. Many couples fight over residential and other properties because both of them want the best lifestyle. The Florida divorce process requires a couple to divide marital assets and debts.
These are assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage and not before. Equitable distribution of property and credits must be done to ensure a fair process.
Many factors such as marriage duration and contributions of spouse are considered for property division. You and your partner may have to hire a mediator to develop an agreement for this purpose.
Child Custody In Florida
Child custody in Florida is awarded by the judge if you or your spouse cannot reach an agreement. The court will determine the ability of each parent to facilitate the child’s upbringing.
They may also divide parental responsibilities if both parents get partial custodial rights. In cases of abuse, the court may award one parent the complete custody of the kid.
It may also not offer visitation rights to the other parent in specific cases. Some judges may also consider the kid’s preference to make an informed decision about child custody in Florida.
How Much Does It Cost To File For A Divorce In Florida?
It can cost about $409 to file for a divorce in Florida. This is the average figure, but the exact amount may vary. Factors that affect the divorce filing cost include the paperwork that has to be submitted and whether is being given online or in physical copy.
How Do You Start The Divorce Process In Florida?
The first thing you must do is learn all the forms that a person has to fill out for divorce in Florida. You will have to fill, sign, and get the document notarized.
Then, go to the court clerk to submit the paperwork and notify your partner through a server. You can also minimize your burden by hiring a family lawyer to start the process.
Can I File For Divorce In Florida Online?
You can file for divorce in Florida online especially if your divorce is an uncontested one. The company will make you complete a questionnaire and fill out all forms for the Florida divorce process. They will also walk you through the entire procedure to reduce your stress.
How Long Do You Have To Be Separated To File For Divorce In Florida?
There is no separation time requirement that couples must fulfill when wanting a divorce in Florida. The primary thing you must fulfill includes residency or time of stay requirements.
Your case must also meet the grounds for divorce in this state. Florida is a no-fault state, so filing for separation is easier here.
Ease The Divorce Process By Hiring A Family Lawyer In Florida
That was your complete guide on how to file for divorce in Florida. You can start the proceedings with or without a lawyer. If you choose the latter option, you will have to find forms and print them.
It will also fall under your purview to submit complete documents and notify your spouse of every new piece of information. Hiring a lawyer is a better option because it will ease your legwork.
An expert attorney will already have the latest forms that have to be filed for divorce. They will also notify your spouse and pay for the server plus other costs.
If you want to hire a family lawyer, you can rely on Kraken Law. Our team of divorce attorneys has handled many cases over the years, so contact us now to learn more.