Many couples never consider divorce a possibility, but statistics show otherwise. Divorce can be stressful emotionally as well as financially, and each state has its own laws. It helps to know how divorce works in Florida to make certain both parties get treated fairly.
To begin the divorce proceedings, Florida law requires one of the parties to have lived there for a minimum of six months. This rule does not apply to active-duty military members stationed in another state or country. If one party is in the military, then the divorce proceedings must take place in the county where the parties reside.
Some states require proof of wrongdoing to be granted a divorce, otherwise known as fault divorces. Florida is a no-fault state, which means no proof of wrongdoing has to be submitted. The reason for divorce can be as simple as incompatibility or if the spouse has been mentally ill for three years.
One spouse will be required to file a Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage. The one asking for a divorce who files the papers is called the petitioner, and the respondent refers to the other party. The petitioner must submit a copy of the petition to the respondent, and the respondent should either accept or deny the terms. If the spouse agrees to the divorce, they then fill out an Answer and Waiver of Service form.
In Florida court, the marital assets of both parties will be divided. The law does not count separate debts or assets in one spouse’s name in marital assets. Parties have 45 days to submit an affidavit with financial information, which may include income, tax returns, bank statements and credit card statements.
When a spouse refuses to sign the documents, a sheriff can submit the papers. Some divorce disputes can be settled through mediation, but when one spouse refuses to cooperate, a family law attorney may be able to assist with negotiations.