Embarking on the Florida divorce process can feel overwhelming, but understanding where to begin is key. Our guide aims to simplify your journey, offering you valuable insights into the initial steps.
What are the Required Grounds for Divorce?
People choose to divorce for many reasons. Whether it is a good or bad reason, the State of Florida is a “no-fault” state. This means a spouse does not have to provide a specific reason for divorcing their partner. You are only required to state that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Where to Begin:
Firstly, you need to establish residency. As part of the Florida Divorce process, one spouse needs to live in the state for at least six months. Then, there’s the matter of grounds for divorce. In Florida, you can cite irreconcilable differences or mental incapacity of your spouse.
What County do you open your divorce case with?
In most situations, you or your spouse must have lived in the county’s Circuit Court for the past six months to open your divorce.
You initiate divorce proceedings by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.. The Petition is the legal document that opens up the action, with a statement of what you are requesting the Court to do.
The Petition should include specific details based on your situation. These might include the names and birthdays of minor children born during the marriage, a statement about marital liabilities or assets, a request for monetary assistance, and the grounds for dissolution, such as an irretrievably broken marriage.
Lastly, ensure to file all necessary supporting documents with the Petition. For example, Florida law requires you to submit a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) if there are minor children in the marriage.
Documents are ready. Now what?
- Where to File. Petitions need to be filed with the Clerk of Courts in the County where you are initiating the action. Click here to find your Court. Some Courts, such as in Miami-Dade County, require Petitions by self-represented individuals to be reviewed by the Self-Help Center for a minimal fee. Furthermore, Be sure to have extra copies of all documents filed–a copy for yourself and another to be provided to your spouse. Please refer to #5 below if you choose to file through Florida’s E-filing Portal System.
- Create an account with the Florida E-Filing Portal. All Florida Courts accept pleadings and documents filed through the Florida E-filing Portal System. However, you must set up an account. Click here to create your account.
- Filing Fee. The filing fee for filing a divorce is $409. Petitions filed through the Florida E-Filing Portal System incur a service fee. The Court might waive this fee for those deemed indigent.Next, You must submit an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status with your Petition to possibly qualify.
- Process Server. You should be receiving your case number shortly after filing the Petition. When received, add the case number to the documents you will serve on your spouse. Florida law requires a party initiating an action to “serve” the documents via a process server. Furthermore, contact a process server to deliver the documents to your spouse once you have the case number. Your spouse is required to file a written response to your Petition within 20 days after being served.
What if you and your souse are not in agreement?
If your divorce is contested, meaning that there are issues that you and your spouse do not agree on, we strongly recommend that you obtain the assistance of counsel. Most counties have Self-Help Centers that may assist you for a low fee.
Finally, it’s essential to prepare emotionally. Divorce is a challenging journey, but support from professionals and loved ones can make it bearable.
If you have questions about filing for divorce, it’s best to ask a qualified family attorney. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation
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