When a couple decides to go their separate ways, they are taking steps that will determine the rest of their lives, which also influences their children’s future as well. Understanding the process of separation and divorce may not ease the pain and conflicting emotions that everyone involved is feeling, but it can provide a framework that will help you to know what to expect.
Every state has different requirements for divorce as directed by state law, so if you reside in Florida, you may want to find out more about how these laws direct a judge’s rulings. As financial concerns like property division, decisions for child custody and alimony are a major part of a contested divorce proceeding, planning ahead and making sure that you have experienced and compassionate legal counsel to help you is very important.
Grounds for divorce and basic requirements
Divorce in Florida is called “dissolution of marriage”. Because Florida is a no-fault divorce state, the only grounds necessary for a spouse to file for divorce are that the marriage is irretrievably broken. One spouse must reside in Florida for at least six months in order to file. Florida also recognizes legal separation, which is an option if neither spouse resides in the state.
Filing for a dissolution of marriage
The two basic ways of filing for divorce in the Florida courts is either through the regular or the simplified dissolution of marriage process. In a regular dissolution proceeding, one spouse files a petition and the other spouse has 20 days to respond, at that time including a counter-petition if necessary to address additional issues of concern.
A simplified dissolution of marriage is only suitable under the following circumstances:
- Both parties agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken
- There are no dependent, minor or adopted children, and neither party is pregnant
- One spouse has lived in the state for the past six months
- Both parties are in agreement with all property and debt division
- Neither side is seeking alimony or child support
If the spouses can agree to some basic divorce issues, such as property division, custody, child support and alimony, they can file a written agreement with the court and the divorce will be final within a few weeks. It will go on longer, however, if there are points of contention and ends up in court before a judge.