Regular Dissolution of Marriage
To begin the Regular Dissolution of marriage, a petition for dissolution must be filed with the circuit court by the husband or wife. This petition must state that the marriage is "irretrievably broken" and outline what the petitioning party wants from the court. The other partner must then file an answer to the petition within 20 days. The answer must address the matters brought forth in the original petition and may (and most often does) raise additional issues that the answering party wishes to address. The person starting the divorce action (Petitioner) needs to complete one of the following Petitions that best applies to the parties' circumstances:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Child(ren)
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Dependent or Minor Child(ren) or Property
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren)
One of the following Answer forms should be completed by the spouse who was served with the Petition (the Respondent). The first form is appropriate for spouses who agree on all conditions.
- Answer, Waiver and Request for Copy of Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage
- Answer to Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
- Answer to Petition and Counterpetition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren).
- Answer to Petition and Counterpetition for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Child(ren)
- Answer to Petition and Counterpetition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Dependent or Minor Child(ren) or Property
Next, both parties must fill out their own Notice of Social Security Number form, and then fill out the Divorce Settlement Agreement together if they are in agreement regarding the terms of the divorce. If the parties are not in agreement this document should not be completed. You can use Rocket Lawyer's easy interview process to complete a Divorce Settlement Agreement that is tailored to your needs.
Next, the original copy of the petition, the Financial Affidavit Form, the Notice of Social Security Number Form and the Divorce Settlement Agreement form, should be filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the couple resides.
Each party must then provide financial documents and a completed financial affidavit to the other party within 45 days of the petition service. Without this information the court can dismiss the case or not consider a party's requests. If the parties have completed a Divorce Settlement Agreement and waived the Financial Affidavit requirements neither of these forms are necessary. Some financial documents are not necessary if the court modifies the requirements. However a financial affidavit is mandatory in all cases where any financial relief is sought unless waived in the Divorce Settlement Agreement by both parties.
If children are involved, a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and Child Custody Affidavit must also be filed before any hearing on child support. This requirement may not be waived.
After filing the forms, the husband and/or wife must then prove that they are residents of Florida and have been residents for at least 6 months. Residency can be proved by presenting a valid driver's license, valid testimony of another person, or a signed and notarized Affidavit of Corroborating Witness.
At this stage the couple must pay filing fees to file the forms in the circuit court. Either the couple or the clerk of court will need to complete a civil cover sheet found in Form 1.997 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The clerk's office can provide this form. After filing the form, the next and nearly final step is to set a date and time for a court appearance before a judge and bring with you the Final Judgment of Dissolution that applies to your situation:
Uncontested Divorce (A divorce where the Marital Settlement Agreement was signed)
- Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren) (Uncontested)
- Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Child(ren) (Uncontested)
- Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with No Property or Dependent or Minor Child(ren) (Uncontested)
Contested Divorce (Where the divorcing parties do not agree on the terms of divorce and want the judge to make the final determination):
- Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren)
- Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Child(ren)
If all the papers are in order the judge may grant you a final dissolution of your marriage by signing the final judgment of Dissolution of Marriage Form.
Steps to Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
Only certain Floridian couples are eligible for Simplified Dissolution, which is meant to be executed with little to no help from an attorney. Couples must file all the necessary documents correctly, and both parties are required to appear before a judge when the final dissolution is granted. A couple only qualifies for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage if all of the following statements are true:
- They both agree to the use of this form of dissolution proceeding
- They have no minor (under 18) or dependent children
- They have no adopted children under the age of 18
- The wife is not pregnant
- At least one of the parties has lived in Florida for the past six months
- The parties have agreed on the division of all of their property (assets) and obligations (debts)
- Both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and want to end their marriage because of serious permanent differences
Both husband and wife must fill out this petition form in the presence of a deputy clerk.
All the subsequent steps are like the regular dissolution of marriage, up to completing a civil cover sheet, garnering a date and time for your court appearance before a judge, and bringing the Final Judgment of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. If all the papers are in order the judge may grant you a final dissolution of your marriage by signing the final judgment of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Form.
Whether you and your spouse disagree on the terms of the divorce, or you need help with your Simple Dissolution, you can use Rocket Lawyer to Find a Lawyerto help.
About Samantha Dammer
Samantha Dammer is an attorney licensed in Florida and Illinois, concentrating her practice in bankruptcy law, general and real estate litigation, foreclosure solutions, family law, business law as well as comprehensive asset protection and debt restructuring. Ms. Dammer graduated first in her class from St. Xavier University in Chicago. Thereafter, she attended law school at Valparaiso University School of Law, where she was the Executive Symposium Editor for the law review. Ms. Dammer graduated from Valpo Law School Magna Cum Laude in 1998.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.