In Florida, a divorce is considered dissolution and fault is no longer a requirement for filing. By statute, dissolutions can be: 1) simplified, 2) uncontested, 3) default and 4) contested. Each of these dissolution types is generally more complicated than the previous.
The first, a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage procedure, can be completed without a lawyer but must meet the following requirements.
- A spouse be a Florida resident for a minimum of six months (verified by a Florida driver’s license, state identification card, voter registration card or by Affidavit of Corroborating Witness)
- Both spouses must be in full agreement, cooperate and sign all necessary papers. This includes both appearing at the Clerk’s office to file the Petition.
- Neither spouse can have minor or dependent children.(A minor is under 18 years; a dependent may be over 18, but still dependent because of disability; adopted children are also considered.)
- The wife cannot be pregnant
- Financial information (other than that which is included in the Family Law Financial Affidavit) will not be shared and any division of assets and liabilities are agreed upon
- Alimony will not be requested
- Both spouses agree to waive their right of trial or an appeal and will attend a short court hearing
A Simplified Dissolution of Marriage starts when a couple files jointly a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in the Circuit Court of their county. The Petition is filed with a:
- Civil Cover Sheet, a simple form which identifies the parties and describes the type of action – divorce
- Family Law Financial Affidavits, one for the husband and one for the wife, including their negotiated Marital Settlement Agreement
When the divorce hearing is scheduled both spouses must appear and present the court with the Final Judgment of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. After the hearing, the spouses will record a Final Disposition form. Generally, the process can take as little as three weeks from the filing to the hearing.
If a couple does not qualify for a Simplified Divorce e.g., there are minor children they may still both sign the Marital Settlement Agreement and follow a similar process as a Simplified Dissolution. In this scenario one spouse signs an Answer, Waiver, and Request for a Copy of Final Judgment of Dissolution. The spouse signing the action must agree to the filed actions. If the signing spouse doesn’t agree to the Settlement Agreement then the
process moves from a simple to an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is sued when couples want a divorce and can agree on:
- the terms and conditions of the distribution of assets and liabilities
- alimony (how much and for how long), and
- child custody, visitation and child support.
In an uncontested divorce, one spouse is the Petitioner and the other is the Respondent. The Petitioner files the documents while the Respondent, may or may not answer the action. This process initiates when the Petitioner files a:
- Civil Cover Sheet
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, depending upon the circumstances of the couple. The forms are a) Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Children, b) Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Children or c) Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Dependent Children or Property.
- The petitioner must file a Family Law Financial Affidavit (long or short form), Notice of Social Security Number, Notice of Current Address and Marital Settlement Agreement. The Family Law Financial Affidavit is normally accompanied by the Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, which certifies that the other spouse has provided required financial information to the Petitioner.
- Family Law Financial Affidavit including a Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, which certifies that the other spouse has provided required financial information to the Petitioner
- Notice of Social Security Number
- Notice of Current Address
- Marital Settlement Agreement.
If minor children are involved, the Petitioner also files a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit, which identifies the children, their residences and information about custody proceedings. If child support is a consideration, a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet must also be completed, usually as part of negotiations toward a settlement.
Next, the Petitioner must schedule a divorce hearing for the final judgment. The hearing is brief and should take no more than ten minutes. Afterwards, one of three versions of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, depending upon the circumstances of the couple: a) Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with Minor Child(ren) (Uncontested); b) Final Judgement of Dissolution of Marriage with Property but no Dependent or Minor Child(ren) (Uncontested), or c) Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage with No Property or Dependent or Minor Child(ren) (Uncontested) is filed.