Dena Standley | November 21, 2022
Summary: Divorce can be a complicated, stressful, and overwhelming experience. How can you make practical, long-term decisions with so much emotion swirling around? In this article, SoloSuit provides a step-by-step guide to filing for divorce in Florida, from preparing divorce papers and appearing in court, to finalizing the divorce and making any appropriate appeals.
Every couple hopes their marriage will last a lifetime after getting married. No one enters into a marriage thinking it might end in a divorce down the road. But marriage is not always successful.
Some couples overcome their obstacles, but others are not as lucky. When considering getting a divorce in Florida, there are many questions to consider and internal conflicts to resolve. Whether or not to end the marriage was likely a difficult decision to reach, but now that you have, you need to understand the process for a divorce in Florida.
SoloSuit clarifies the process for you below.
Florida allows divorces when you or your spouse have lived in the state for at least six months (FL §61.021). Let’s dive into the steps involved in legally ending a marriage there. These steps include:
Below, we will break down each step in detail. Let's get started.
You must file a formal petition to get a divorce and notify your spouse by serving them with the petition. File the petition in the Florida circuit court closest to your home, and here is a handy guide for filling out court forms on your own.
The cost of filing your divorce petition can range from $300 to $500. But a Civil Indigent Status application is available if you cannot afford to pay the fee.
The petition for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage must be filed jointly with your spouse. Other divorce petitions require personal or constructive service on your spouse. When you choose personal service, you deliver the divorce petition to your spouse in person. Serve your spouse personally for a quick resolution.
Service by publication, or constructive service, is applicable only when you cannot locate and serve your spouse personally (Florida Affidavit of Diligent Search and Inquiry).
If you and your spouse are on the same page about how you want your divorce to proceed, then the Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is your best option. But depending on the type of divorce you want, here are some documents to submit.
Divorce petitions, other than the Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, require your spouse to respond within 20 days. The court clerk, family law intake staff, or the judge's judicial assistant will assist you in scheduling the final divorce hearing if your spouse does not respond within 20 days.
Using the official Notice of Hearing form, notify your spouse once you schedule the hearing. Submit this form regardless of whether your spouse has responded to your divorce petition.
You can answer a petition for dissolution of marriage if you do not wish to argue any of the information contained in it. Otherwise, you can file a counterpetition which will most likely lead to a court hearing.
In response to a divorce petition you are served with and failed to respond within the required 20 days, you may file a Motion to Set Aside Default or Default Judgment. To file this motion, you must show that you could not respond within 20 days due to a mistake, inadvertence, excused neglect, or fraud.
Yes. Soon after filing the divorce petition, both spouses must file a financial affidavit detailing their financial situation (Florida Bar: Automatic Financial Disclosure). Discuss significant financial issues with your spouse that matter.
If you have reached a predetermined agreement, it is called an "uncontested" divorce, and you can schedule the final hearing by contacting the court staff. If one spouse schedules the hearing, the other must receive a Notice of Hearing form.
Should you proceed to trial, you both must attend multiple divorce hearings. Both spouses have the right to cross-examine each other at these hearings (your lawyers will likely ask the questions).
An uncontested divorce, i.e., you reach an agreement via mediation, collaborative divorce, or another method, will still require both of you to attend one court hearing.
A divorce cannot be formalized legally until at least 20 days after the day you first filed your divorce petition, regardless of whether you proceed to trial or reach an agreement. In most cases, divorce proceedings can take months or even years, so this timeline is unlikely to apply.
The quickest divorce option, the Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, will take at least three weeks unless you can demonstrate some injustice will result (FL §61.19).
You can appeal a judge's decision if you disagree with it, but keep in mind that your appeal is unlikely to overturn the judge's ruling unless you can prove a legal error on the judge's part (Florida Bar: Appeals). The deadline for appeals is 30 days after the date of the judge's decision.
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Here's a list of guides for other states.
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