Most couples who get divorced in Florida use the regular dissolution of marriage process. This process requires that certain paperwork be filed in the Florida court and certain information be shared between the spouses. In limited circumstances, some couples are eligible to get divorced in Florida through a simplified process.
A South Florida spouse begins a divorce action by filing a petition for dissolution of marriage, usually with the help of a family law attorney. This petition is filed in the circuit court in the county where either spouse resides. In the petition, the spouse states the reason for wanting the divorce, such as that the marriage is irretrievably broken. The petition also states what the spouse wants, such as the court to grant divorce and divide assets. Once properly served, the other spouse has 20 days to respond to this petition. In this response, the other spouse can state any additional issues that he or she wants the court to address.
Florida courts require the parties to provide a completed financial affidavit to the other party. If either party refuses to provide this information, the court can dismiss the case. Additionally, a child support guidelines worksheet has to be filed with the court before any proceeding relating to child support. Several Florida counties require divorcing spouses to go through mediation in order to work out their own divorce settlement. Even when not required, the process of mediation can assist couples in reaching decisions related to their property and children.
If the couple agrees to the terms of their divorce, the spouses sign a written agreement that outlines their understanding and ask the court to accept the agreement and incorporate it into the court’s order. If the parties do not agree on the terms of their divorce, a judge hears testimony and reviews evidence submitted to the court at a hearing, making a decision on these contested issues.