Divorce is not easy. For some, it is one of the hardest things you will do and you want to make sure your rights are protected. In Florida, there are generally two types of divorce proceedings. Understanding the types of divorce and what options are available, can help make the process a little easier.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage: This is a relatively straightforward and simple divorce, and is ideal for couples that can meet the following criteria:
- Either you or your spouse have lived in the state of Florida for six (6) months prior to the divorce proceedings.
- You and your spouse agree the marriage is irretrievably broken.
- The parties a) have no minor or dependent children together; b) no minor or dependent children were born to the wife during the marriage; and c) the wife is not currently pregnant.
- Both spouses agree not to seek alimony.
- The parties have reached an agreement on how their assets and debts will be distributed.
- Even if there isn’t any property owned by the couple, each party must fill out a settlement affidavit and a financial affidavit.
- Both parties will have to attend a final hearing.
- Both parties waive their right to a trial and to an appeal of the case.
Regular Dissolution of Marriage: In more “complicated” cases either party will need to file a standard petition for dissolution of marriage. This type of divorce only requires one person or ‘petitioner’, to file with the court. The other party is the ‘respondent’ who must be properly served divorce papers in order for the proceedings to proceed. This type of divorce is necessary in the following circumstances:
- The petitioner must be a Florida resident for at least six months and feel the marriage is irretrievably broken.
- One of the following factors is present in the case: a. There is one or minor children born to the wife during the course of the marriage b. Either party seeks alimony c. There is a disagreement at the time of filing on the division of the parties assets and debts
- This type of divorce can be uncontested, wherein the couple have reached an agreement resolving all issues in the case, including, but not limited to, parenting plan, timesharing / custody matters and all financial related issues.
- If the matter is contested, meaning the parties have not resolved all their pending issues, they will partake in a process of discovery, attend mediation and possibly proceed to a trial on the merits before a judge. Both parties will often be required to testify at the final hearing / trial.
Do you need to hire an attorney?
For a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage it isn’t necessary to hire an attorney, each party can fill out the paperwork and go to the clerk’s office in the courthouse to sign the necessary documents. You do not have to go with your spouse at the same time. If you are not comfortable with the process, an attorney can help with any disputes, ensure the paperwork is filed correctly and help finalize the divorce faster.
For an uncontested Regular Dissolution of Marriage, both parties must submit a financial affidavit along with a marital settlement agreement, within 45 days of the petitioner filing papers. An attorney can help with the paperwork and answer any questions.
If you are facing a contested Regular Dissolution of Marriage, an experienced attorney can represent you in court and fight for what you deserve in matters of child support, child custody, property, and alimony.
If you have any questions concerning divorce or family law, please contact the attorneys at HAWM Law.