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How to File Divorce

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Fault for Divorce 

First of all, it is important to know that Florida does not have fault-based divorce. This means that a legal separation is not the fault of either the husband or the wife, it’s no one’s fault. As a matter of fact, in some cases Florida requires that you only show the marriage is irretrievably broken. That does not mean that the Court will not consider things such as infidelity, abuse, or bad treatment, the Court may look at these when deciding child custody, the division of property and alimony as well.

Where to File for Divorce

You should file for divorce in the county where you live and have been a resident at least six months prior to filing. Keep in mind that this article only includes a break-down of the basic and general requirements. Florida is separated into different counties and circuits which may have different court requirements, so before you do anything, your best bet would be to check your local circuit website for the county and circuit you wish to file your legal separation in. Depending on where you intend to file for divorce, you might need to add some additional steps.

Documents and Forms for Divorce

The first form to complete is called the Petition for Dissolution of marriage. If you are the party that files the divorce you will be considered the “petitioner,” the other spouse will be considered the “respondent”. Being considered either doesn’t mean you won or you’re better than the other spouse, these names are used as classifications and to follow proper procedure and time restraints. There are different time requirements and documentation depending on whether you are the respondent or petitioner, these legal technicalities are best left for professionals, so please make sure to consult with an attorney about these prior to filing or responding a divorce.

Make sure to list everything that you consider is at issue in your case on the petition, this includes child custody, alimony, child support and any debts that will be disputed in the divorce.

Sometimes, when these things are not at issue, you may qualify for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.

In order to possibly qualify for a Simplified Dissolution of marriage, the spouses must not have children under the age of 18, they must have agreed on how the property will be divided and neither party can ask for any type of alimony. You must keep in mind that a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage requires you to prepare and sign a settlement agreement that covers how your property and debts have been agreed to be divided. Also, in filing a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, there are many rights you waive such as asking for financial documents.

Meeting the requirements for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage isn’t easy, and is more complicated than it sounds, so you should definitely consult with an attorney to make sure you meet the requirements and to make sure this is your best option.

Filing Documents for Divorce with the Court

In order to file for divorce with the Court, you must give your notarized petition for dissolution of marriage or simplified dissolution of marriage, (when applicable) to the clerk’s office of the circuit court for the county you are filing in. You must also pay the applicable filing fee. Check your local circuit website for the county and circuit you wish to file your legal separation in to verify what the filing fee amount is and to check for any additional requirements that may not have been covered in this brief article.

Service of Process for Divorce

Florida requires that you give your spouse a copy of the petition for dissolution of marriage that you file with the Court. There are a number of ways to properly serve your spouse depending on whether your spouse agrees to accept service, where your spouse lives, where you live, sometimes if you can’t find your spouse, you can serve them by constructive service of process. These legal technicalities are best left for professionals, so please make sure to consult with an attorney about these prior to filing or responding a divorce.