If you’re filing for divorce in Florida, it’s helpful to have a comprehensive guide about Florida divorce law at your side. Read on to gain valuable insights and clarity about filing for divorce in the Sunshine State.
Are you eligible to file in Florida?
To file for dissolution of marriage in Florida, one person in a divorcing couple must have lived there for a minimum of six months. This residency requirement is mandatory. It ensures that Florida courts have jurisdiction over the matter.
Will your partner collaborate on a settlement agreement?
If both members of a divorcing couple agree on all terms of their settlement, they may be eligible for what is known as an uncontested divorce in Florida.
Uncontested divorce is typically a more streamlined and less adversarial process than contested divorce. It involves both parties agreeing on key issues such as the division of property, child custody, and spousal support. When two people agree on the division of their marital property and other issues, there is no need for prolonged court proceedings.
An uncontested divorce can save you time, reduce stress, and often result in lower legal fees. However, it's crucial to have a clear and comprehensive settlement agreement in place to avoid potential disputes down the line.
What if you can’t agree on settlement issues?
In situations where you and your partner cannot agree on settlement issues, the divorce becomes contested. The court may need to step in to make your decisions for you.
Let’s take a closer look at what this means.
Florida operates under an equitable distribution model of property division. This doesn't necessarily mean a 50/50 split. Rather, it’s a fair distribution of marital assets based on each party's contribution to the marriage. It also hinges on the length of the marriage and each party's financial resources and economic circumstances. All assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered marital property and subject to division.
In Florida, what is commonly known as alimony is referred to as spousal support. It's financial assistance paid by one spouse to the other, the purpose of which is usually to help maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. The court decides a spousal support amount based on factors such as the length of the marriage, the financial resources of each party, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, and the contributions of each party to the marriage.
Child custody and support
Florida courts prioritize the best interests of the child when determining custody and support. The state encourages shared parental responsibility where both parents continue to have full parental rights and responsibilities.
Child support is determined using a model referred to as the income shares model. Both parents' incomes, the number of children, and the amount of time the child spends with each parent are all factored into determining child support payment amounts.
Could an outsider help you collaborate?
When navigating divorce proceedings, outside help can play a pivotal role in resolving disputes and ensuring the process runs as smoothly as possible.
Here are three key resources you might use.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that involves a neutral third party, a mediator. This person helps the couple come to an agreement on contested issues regarding their settlement.
A mediator does not make decisions for you. Instead, they facilitate conversations and offer suggestions. Their goal is to see both people benefit from the marital settlement agreement.
Mediation encourages communication and cooperation. It can be less stressful and more cost-effective than court proceedings.
Hiring a divorce lawyer can provide invaluable assistance during a divorce. A divorce attorney brings legal expertise, an understanding of complex legal processes, and experience in negotiation to the table. They can provide advice tailored to your situation, safeguard your interests, and ensure your rights are protected throughout the divorce process.
A divorce lawyer may or may not accompany you through the process of litigation.
When a divorcing couple cannot agree on all issues even after mediation, the divorce may go to court for litigation. In this scenario, each party presents their case. A judge makes the final decisions on contested issues.
Litigation can be time-consuming and costly, but it guarantees a resolution when parties cannot agree.
Steps for filing for divorce in Florida
The first step is to complete the necessary divorce papers. This includes the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage or a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, depending on your circumstances.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state; you do not need to provide grounds for divorce beyond the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
The forms above will get you started. For all forms, check out the Florida Court website.
File your divorce papers with the court
After completing your paperwork, you'll need to file it with the court. In Florida, this takes place at the Circuit Court in the county where you or your spouse resides. E-filing is available in all 67 Florida counties but only required for lawyers to use. The filing fee in Florida is about $400, but it may be waived based on financial need.
Serve your partner
After filing, you are required to serve your partner with the divorce papers. This can be done through a process server, sheriff's office, or by mail. Alternatively, your spouse can accept service. To do so, they would have their Answer and Waiver of Service form notarized and then file it.
Understanding financial disclosures
Financial disclosures are an essential part of the divorce process. They provide a comprehensive picture of each party's financial situation, including income, expenses, assets, and debts. This information is crucial for determining issues like property division, child support payments, and spousal support.
In Florida, financial disclosures are required to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities. They help the court and the parties involved understand the full financial landscape of the marriage.
Filling out financial disclosures involves completing a Family Law Financial Affidavit. This is a sworn statement detailing your financial circumstances. Here's how to fill it out:
- Income: Include all sources of income such as wages, self-employment income, rental income, dividends, and any other income you receive. You'll need to provide proof of income, such as pay stubs or tax returns.
- Expenses: All of your monthly costs should be listed here. This includes money spent on living quarters, food, transportation, insurance, and anything else that you regularly pay for.
- Assets: Detail all your assets, including real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and personal belongings of significant value. For jointly owned assets, you'll need to estimate your portion of the value.
- Liabilities: List all your debts, including mortgages, car loans, credit card debts, and any other outstanding obligations.
There are two financial affidavits in Florida:
The short form is used when a person's individual annual gross income is less than $50,000 per year. The long form, or regular form, is used in all other situations.
If you’re filing for divorce in Florida and would like help, we invite you to schedule a free 15-minute phone call with an account coordinator at Hello Divorce. We can answer your questions and provide guidance as to what your options are. Among other things, we offer flat-rate online divorce plans, professional divorce mediation, and divorce coaching.
Florida State Courts Self-Help Center. Florida Courts.