When you decide it’s time to file for divorce in Florida, you must determine which type of divorce you want to file. You may file for an uncontested divorce, a simplified divorce or a contested divorce. You can only file a simplified divorce if you have no children or real estate. You can file for an uncontested divorce if you have property and children, but agree to all aspects of the divorce, including alimony, child support and division of assets and liabilities. Florida has certain requirements for filing a divorce, including required documents and time frames.
Opening a Case
To open a divorce case, whether you choose a simplified, uncontested or contested divorce, you must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. If you are filing a simplified or uncontested divorce, it’s better to file the entire packet of divorce documents. If you do not file all of the required documents, you must at least file the Petition and the Marital Settlement Agreement. All three types of divorce require a civil cover sheet along with the petition.
If you are filing a contested divorce, you must file the Petition and have the clerk sign a summons. A process server or the sheriff will serve the summons and petition on your spouse. When you draft the contested petition, make sure you leave nothing out. If you think you may not want alimony, ask for it any way, because you cannot ask for it later if you change your mind. You can always ask for it now, then tell the Court you do not want alimony. Other issues include custody, visitation, child support, insurance issues and division of assets and liabilities.
Once your spouse – the respondent – has been served with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the respondent must file an answer with the court. If one or more allegations are contested, the respondent denies the allegations in his answer, then files a counter petition for dissolution of marriage. If the case is uncontested, the answer simply states that the respondent agrees to the terms in the settlement agreement.
When Minor Children Are Involved
You must file a child support guidelines worksheet if you have children born of the marriage or children in common to you and your spouse. You must also file a parenting plan. Even if the divorce is uncontested, these documents are required. Florida also requires both parents take the parenting course and file the certificate of completion. The Court will not grant a divorce if you do not take the parenting plan. If your spouse is giving you trouble and refuses to take the course, submit your final documents to the Court and during the final hearing, let the Court know that your spouse refuses to take the parenting course, then ask the Court to grant the divorce. The Court will determine its course of action toward the contemptuous spouse.
Mandatory disclosure or discovery is required by the state, but if you file an uncontested divorce, you may file a waiver of mandatory disclosure. Though you may waive the mandatory disclosure requirement, you may not waive the Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit requirement. Each party must still file and provide the other with a copy of her Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit.
Florida has additional requirements, including a notice of social security number for each party. This form tells the court what his social security number and birth date are, and also provides the court with the minor children’s social security numbers, if applicable.
Your license must show that you lived in Florida for six months prior to the filing of the divorce petition. If not, you must file an Affidavit of Corroborating Witness to show that you have been a resident for more than six months.