What Are My Options If I Want My Divorce To Be Quick And Simple in Florida?
Depending on the specific circumstances and facts of your case, there are three procedures in Florida for achieving a divorce: simplified, uncontested, and contested.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in Florida
In Florida, a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage can be obtained only if you and your spouse meet the following requirements:
- You and your spouse agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
- You or your spouse has resided in the State of Florida for 6 months before the filing of the petition for simplified dissolution of marriage.
- You and your spouse do not have any minor children and are not currently expecting any.
- You and your spouse have already worked out the division of marital assets and liabilities.
- You and your spouse have either filed the appropriate financial affidavits with the court or have agreed to waive the filing of financial affidavits because you and your spouse are satisfied with the financial disclosure that has been made.
- Neither you nor your spouse will be seeking alimony or spousal support from each other.
- You and your spouse must appear together in court at the final hearing.
The procedure of seeking a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is typically utilized in those cases involving a short-term marriage (e.g., less than 6 years) and no minor children. In addition, the parties have not acquired any significant amount of property during the marriage and are relatively amicable in agreeing to end the marriage. You and your spouse must meet the basic legal requirements in order to pursue this divorce procedure. Otherwise, the court may refuse to enter a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage or dismiss your petition.
Uncontested Divorce in Florida
If the parties do not meet the legal requirements to file for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, then the next option would be to obtain an uncontested divorce if the parties have already worked out all of their issues in the divorce. The underlying presumption in an uncontested divorce is that you and your spouse have worked out all the issues with regard to dividing the marital estate, alimony, and, when there are minor children in the marriage, child support, parental responsibility and time-sharing. An uncontested divorce still requires the filing of all the necessary pleadings and forms prior to the Final Hearing. If the divorce case involves minor children the parties are also required to file certificates establishing that they have completed the parenting course. Furthermore, the parties may request a waiver of the statutory 20-day delay period. According to section 61.19, Florida Statutes, requires the parties to wait at least 20 days from the date that the petition for divorce was filed before the court enters the final judgment of dissolution of marriage unless one of the parties can show an injustice would result from the delay.
Unlike a simplified divorce, each party in either an uncontested or contested divorce is required to file a Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit. If a spouse’s individual gross annual income is $50,000, a Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit (Long Form) will need to be completed and filed as part of mandatory disclosure. A copy of the completed financial affidavit also needs to be sent to the opposing party. If a spouse’s individual gross annual income is less than $50,000, then a Florida Family Law Financial Affidavit (Short Form) will have to be completed and filed instead of the “Long Form.” A copy of the completed financial affidavit (short form) will also have to be sent to the opposing party.
Contested Divorce in Florida
If the parties are unable to work out all the issues in their divorce case, then the parties’ case is considered a contested divorce. Typically, the attorney for each party, unless a party is pro se, will file the pleadings on behalf of his or her client. The individual initiating the process is referred to as the “petitioner” while the spouse on the receiving end is referred to as a “respondent.” In addition to filing an answer and defenses, the respondent may also file a counter-petition. Furthermore, the filing of certain motions, such as motions seeking temporary relief, will require the court to conduct a hearing where witnesses are called and evidence is introduced. We have handled contested divorces involving a wide range of issues including but not limited to the following:
- Alimony disputes
- Division of high net worth estates
- Valuation and division of business interests
- Issues of waste or hidden assets
- Paternity/child support disputes
- Domestic Violence – Injunctions
- Contentious timeshare plans and other child custody issues
- Custody cases involving allegations of drug use or alcohol abuse