Regular Dissolution of Marriage
Florida is a no fault divorce state. This means that the only requirement for the dissolution of marriage is that the marriage is irreconcilable. Either spouse can file for dissolution. To obtain a divorce in Florida, you must prove that
- There is an existing marriage,
- One spouse has been a Florida resident for six months immediately prior to the filing of the petition for dissolution, and
- The marriage is irretrievably broken.
There are two types of divorce in Florida. The most common type is the “regular dissolution of marriage.” The less usual method is the “simplified dissolution of marriage.”
Regular Dissolution of Marriage
A regular dissolution of marriage begins when a spouse files a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” form. This form, filed by one spouse, alleges that the marriage is irretrievably broken and sets out what that spouse desires in terms of property division, child custody, alimony, and child support. The non-filing spouse then files an answer with the court, which addresses the issues in the petition and can also include a counter-petition for dissolution. In cases in which one spouse requests any sort of support from the other spouse, financial documents and financial affidavits are required from both parties.
If a couple agrees on asset division, parental responsibility, and support, they can present a written settlement agreement to the court that states the terms of their agreement. Some couples may not initially agree, but can work out their differences and are then able to present a settlement agreement to the judge at the final hearing.
Sometimes when a couple disagrees, the judge will suggest that they attend mediation, which is a procedure to help them reach an arrangement that is mutually satisfactory without having to go to trial. Mediators are neutral third parties who are trained to help the spouses come to an agreement. Mediation is required in some counties before a trial date can be set.
However, some couples are not able to decide upon a settlement agreement, and go to trial, where each spouse presents his or her side of each contested issue. At trial, a judge will make a final decision on each issue.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
A regular petition for dissolution can be time consuming. Divorcing spouses may file a petition for simplified dissolution if several further conditions are satisfied:
- The spouses agree that the marriage cannot be saved,
- The spouses have no minor or dependent children together,
- The wife is not pregnant,
- The spouses have determined on their own how to divide their assets and liabilities, and agree on a plan,
- Neither spouse seeks alimony,
- The spouses are willing to give up their rights to trial and appeal,
- The spouses are willing to go to the clerk’s office to sign the petition, and
- The spouses are both willing to attend the final hearing.
In a simplified dissolution, the spouses must file all necessary documents. After the court has inspected the petition and examined the spouses at the hearing, the court will enter a judgment granting the divorce. Each spouse will be given a copy of the final judgment.