Deciding to end a marriage is always challenging. Filing for divorce can feel overwhelming due to the many legal issues, high emotions, and potential conflicts. When going through a divorce, seeking help from a reputable family law attorney who can offer guidance and support is crucial. This guide will show you how to file for divorce in Florida.
- Meet Qualifications
To file for divorce in Florida, you must have lived in Florida as a permanent resident for at least six months.
- Determine Grounds For Divorce
You’ll need to specify grounds for divorce when filing your petition. There are only two valid legal grounds for divorce in Florida: irretrievably broken and mental incapacitation. Irretrievably broken is the most common ground for divorce and means you can no longer remain in a relationship and that the marriage is beyond repair. Mental incapacitation is reserved for situations where a spouse has been diagnosed with a chronic, debilitating mental condition that makes them unable to sustain a relationship.
- Determine Divorce Type
There are two types of divorce filings in Florida. It’s important to know which one you may be eligible for before filing your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
Contested divorces are the most common type of divorce. They are filed when a couple disagrees about any aspect of the divorce proceedings, such as time-sharing of minor children, spousal support, and asset division.
Also called a “simplified” divorce, uncontested divorces can be filed if you agree with your spouse on all aspects of the divorce, such as custody arrangements, living arrangements, and property division.
- File a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
The first official step of filing for divorce is to submit a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the appropriate family court in the county where you and your ex-spouse last lived together. If you have minor children, you’ll file a Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage with Minor Children. In the petition, you’ll need to outline the divorce terms, such as proposed child time-sharing arrangements, request spousal and child support payments, and share how you’ll divide your property. You’ll also need to pay the state filing fee of $400.
- Spouse Served and Counter Petition
After the petition is filed, your ex-spouse will be served. They have 20 days to respond to the petition, either by signing a document agreeing with the listed terms of the divorce or submitting a counter-petition.
- Prepare Financial Documents and Disclosures
After the petition is filed, you and your ex-spouse must fill out and submit various documents to provide the family court with an overview of your income, expenses, debts, and asset value. This paperwork includes:
- Family Law Financial Affidavit
- Proof of income
- Debt and loan information
- Asset values
- Child support guidelines worksheet
- Create a Parenting Plan
Parenting plans are written agreements that specify how children will split their time between parents once the divorce is finalized. These plans should also include parental responsibilities, such as who will be in charge of schooling, medical care, and extracurricular activities. A final divorce decree can only be granted once a parenting plan is submitted and approved in court.
- Mediation and Trial
Mediation may be required if you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on specific terms related to your divorce. If mediation fails, your case may go to trial, where a judge will make final decisions about the contested terms of the divorce.
- Court Approval and Divorce Finalized
A final hearing will be set where a judge will review all the necessary documents to grant the final divorce decree. Once the divorce is finalized, the parenting plan and agreements, such as child and spousal support, go into effect immediately.
Navigating Divorce Proceedings with Kathy D. Sheive
Kathy D. Sheive is an experienced family law attorney dedicated to helping Osceola and Polk County families navigate the often complicated and high-emotional stakes of filing for divorce. Call our office at 407-315-2268 so we can help you through this emotionally challenging time.