Many couples assume that divorce will be a long and expensive procedure, but they can have a relatively simple divorce in certain circumstances. When both spouses agree on property division, alimony, child custody and child support, it's possible in many states to get an "uncontested" divorce - which is a much simpler legal process. This article will explain when couples may pursue an uncontested divorce in Florida and provide details about the process. If you have additional questions after reading this article, contact a Florida family law attorney for advice.
Only certain couples are eligible to get an uncontested divorce, also called a “simplified dissolution of marriage,” in Florida. To get a simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida, you must meet the following requirements:
Simplified dissolution of marriage is best for couples that want to end their marriage amicably and are willing to cooperate with each other to finalize their divorce. In a regular Florida divorce, the spouses are required to turn over financial information to one another; in a simplified dissolution of marriage, you can waive the requirement of filing a financial affidavit, saving both of you the time and trouble of filling out additional documents.
To get a simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida, you’ll first need to prepare a “Petition for Simplified Dissolution.” A sample form you can print out and use is here. File the completed petition with the circuit court clerk’s office for the county where either you or your spouse lives. You’ll have to pay filing fees at the same time you file your petition; your county clerk can tell you how much those fees will be.
While you and your spouse can agree on how your property and debts are divided orally, it’s always best to put your agreement in writing. If you and your spouse prepare a written marital settlement agreement, make sure both of you have signed it and file it with your petition at your county circuit court clerk’s office.
You should also fill out a “Final Judgment of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage” that the judge will sign when your divorce is finalized. A form final judgment that you can print out and bring to the court is here.
In Florida, both you and your spouse will need to appear before the court for a short hearing before you can be divorced, even with a simplified divorce. The hearing is usually set a short time after you have filed your petition for simplified dissolution. The judge will make sure you or your spouse have lived in Florida for at least six months, which you can prove with a drivers’ license or a witness with knowledge of your residency. The judge will also make sure that you meet the requirements for a simplified dissolution of marriage and make sure that all of your paperwork has been completed.
If you and your spouse haven't signed a marital settlement agreement, the judge will also hear your oral agreement at that time. If you have a settlement agreement, the judge will review it to make sure it meets all of the requirements to be valid. Once the judge is satisfied that all of your paperwork is in order, he or she will sign your final judgment and you will then be officially divorced.
If you have additional questions about uncontested divorce in Florida, contact a local family law attorney.
To read the full text of the law on simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida, read the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, Rule 12.