There are two types of divorce in Florida. This first is a "simplified dissolution of marriage," which is also called a simplified divorce." The second is a "regular dissolution of marriage." This article provides an overview of both.
For either type of divorce, you must first show:
All divorce cases, regardless of type, are handled in the Circuit Court division of the Florida court system.
With a simplified divorce in Florida, the divorcing couple asks the court for the divorce (both spouses are referred to as the “petitioners”). This type of divorce may be easily handled without the help of a lawyer.
In addition to the above requirements, you may only seek this type of divorce if you meet the following:
If you want to seek this type of divorce, you should contact the clerk of court where you or your spouse live for more information and copies of the forms you will need to file.
A "regular dissolution of marriage" (sometimes called a “regular divorce”) may be either an “uncontested divorce” or a “contested divorce.” In either case one, only one spouse asks the court for the divorce - this spouse is the “petitioner”. The other spouse is called the “respondent.”
After showing proper residence in Florida and that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the petitioner spouse will file for divorce with the clerk of court and have the papers "served" (delivered) to the respondent spouse. The respondent spouse is then required to file a written answer to the papers with the clerk of court.
With an uncontested divorce, both spouses must have all issues related to marital property, marital debts, and issues relating minor children from the marriage settled in a signed "marital settlement agreement" (also called a divorce settlement). Both spouses must also complete a financial affidavit within 45 days of serving the divorce paperwork, even if you and spouse have no property. Finally, both spouses must attend the final divorce hearing.
In a "contested divorce" on the other hand, spouses can't or won't agree on the division of marital property, marital debt and/or issues involving minor children from the marriage. After one spouse files divorce papers and the other spouse answers the papers, both will go to trial in front of a judge, who will decide all issues in their case. The petitioner spouse must attend the final hearing or trial. If you need this type of divorce, you should seek the assistance of a lawyer.
You are not required to have a lawyer to get a divorce in Florida. However, if you have questions about your case, or you and your spouse do not agree on the divorce, then you need to talk to a lawyer.
You may also want to consult a lawyer to review your documents before you move forward. The court is not allowed to answer questions about your case or to give advice about your rights. If you move forward without knowing your rights, you might lose important property or child custody rights forever.
You can find more information on the divorce process, as well as related legal issues, in our section on Florida Divorce and Family Laws.