If you are considering divorce, you may be wondering what the divorce process entails. Florida’s legal term for divorce is dissolution of marriage. Every dissolution is different, but most dissolutions follow the same general path.
In order for a marriage to be dissolved in Florida, at least one spouse must have resided in Florida the six months prior to filing. In Florida, there is no fault requirement for obtaining a dissolution. Although fault is not required for dissolution, fault may be considered in the division of the marital estate and parental responsibilities.
Either spouse may file for dissolution. The filing spouse must submit a petition to the proper county court. In Florida, there are two grounds for divorce:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken
- One of the spouses has been mentally incapacitated for at least three preceding years.
The incompetency grounds are rarely used and require a judicial determination of incompetency for at least three preceding years. The petition should also include the filing spouse’s claims for child support and custody, alimony and division of marital assets and debts.
Within 20 days of receiving service, the non-filing spouse must render a response. The non-filing spouse’s answer may address points or requests in the petition, and may include a counter-petition. The parties then may be asked to provide certain financial documents and a financial affidavit to the other side. A child support worksheet must also be submitted to the court if there are minor children involved.
A dissolution of marriage may be contested or uncontested. An uncontested dissolution occurs when spouses agree on property division, alimony, child support, and child custody, and can be finalized very quickly. A contested dissolution occurs when the divorcing spouses cannot agree on these items and a court must make these determinations. A contested divorce can take over a year to finalize.
If you are considering dissolving your marriage, consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced attorneycan help protect your rights and guide you throughout the dissolution process.