There are several options available to end a marriage in Florida. Which method you choose depends on your individual circumstances and whether you and your spouse can agree on major issues.
Florida provides a simplified method to dissolve a marriage for couples who meet the following criteria:
Couples who don’t meet all of those criteria must use a regular process for dissolution of their marriage, described below. Spouses who do meet the requirements for the simplified process must sign the petition at the clerk’s office in the county where the petitioner lives, with a clerk to witness the signatures. They must provide proof of residency and pay a filing fee. The spouses may waive the requirement to file a financial statement by stating on the petition that they are satisfied with their agreement to divide their property—if they don’t, they must also file financial affidavits. The petition offers a choice of attaching a marital settlement agreement that disposes of the marital property and debts, or checking a box that says the couple prefers to keep their financial agreements private.
Once the paperwork is complete and the filing fee is paid, the clerk will schedule a date for the spouse to appear together in front of a judge who will grant the final judgment of dissolution that ends the marriage.
Couples who don’t meet the requirements for a simplified dissolution will file a regular Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The petition, filed by one spouse as the petitioner, states that the marriage is irretrievably broken, and must be signed in front of a notary public or court clerk. A number of other forms, including forms identifying minor children, are also required. After filing, the petitioning spouse must serve the petition by delivering it o the other spouse, known as the respondent, who must file a response within 20 days.
Before a final judgment of divorce can be entered, the spouses must deal with property, support, and parenting issues. You are free to negotiate these issues on your own and submit a complete agreement to the court; as long as it’s reasonable, the court will probably approve it. If you and your spouse aren’t able to agree on parenting issues, you may be required to attend parenting classes or mediation sessions. If you can’t agree on financial issues, you must submit financial information. Ultimately, if you’re not able to agree on all the issues in your divorce, a judge will make the decisions for you after a trial.
(To Find More Information about Simplified Dissolution of Marriag and Regular Dissolution of Marriage, See Getting a Divorce In Florida)
An annulment is very different from a divorce. After an annulment, it’s as though the marriage never existed, legally, and a person seeking an annulment must show that the marriage was void when it was entered into. To prove this, the petitioner would have to show that one of the spouses wasn’t capable of entering into a contact, either because of intoxication or an inability to understand what they were doing; that the marriage was never consummated; or that there was a serious miscommunication or misrepresentation between the spouses. However, even if a marriage may technically be invalid, the longer the spouse waits to challenge it, and the longer the couple behaves like a married couple, the less likely the court will be to grant an annulment. (Lambertini v. Lambertini, 655 So. 2d 142, 1995).
(Learn More Details of Annulment, See The Basics of Annulment in Florida)