Top 10 Things to Know About Filing for a Divorce in Florida
1. Florida is a No Fault divorce state. Divorce in Florida is referred to as a dissolution of marriage or to dissolve a marriage. People who want to dissolve their marriage do not have to give a reason for the divorce. They can simply state that they do not want to be married and that the marriage is “irretrievable broken,” meaning that there is nothing that can be done to repair the marriage.
2. A dissolution of marriage case, however, must then deal with the issues concerning children, alimony and division of property and debts. This is why a client should be prepared for a contested divorce to last at least a year and to cost at least several thousand dollars.
3. Before filing in court for the dissolution of marriage, if the parties can agree to a settlement of the relevant issues, including but not limited to the children, alimony and the division of property and debts, they can write up and sign the settlement and file in court for the dissolution of marriage and attach their settlement agreement. Generally, this is faster and cheaper than just filing for dissolution of marriage, but it requires the cooperation of both parties.
4. If the parties settle, whether before or after the court filing for dissolution of marriage, at least one of them must still go to a short final hearing to get the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. If they do not settle, the case will go to trial.
5. Florida requires that the divorcing parties exchange certain financial information. At a minimum, each party must file a financial affidavit with the court and provide a copy to the other party. This should be done before any settlement is signed. The parties can agree to waive any additional financial disclosure.
6. One member of the married couple must reside in the State of Florida for six months prior to the filing for dissolution of marriage. There are some exceptions, such as if the person is a member of the military and considers Florida their home state or they are stationed in Florida. At the final hearing, a Florida driver’s license is usually used to prove residency, so long as the issue date on the driver’s license is six months before the divorce case was filed in the court.
7. If a party is relying on the other party’s residency to file for the divorce, the filing party must consider how he or she is going to submit the required proof that the other party was a Florida resident for six months before the divorce was filed.
8. Ordinarily, the person filing for dissolution of marriage has the other party served by a process server or the Sheriff with copies of the papers filed in court. However, if he or she does not know where the spouse is living at the time or if the spouse is out of the country, the divorce can be served by publication of a notice in a local newspaper specified by the court.
9. The party serving notice of the divorce by publication will be required to do a diligent search in an attempt to locate his or her spouse. If the search fails to reveal the whereabouts of the spouse, the divorce action will be published in the newspaper for four weeks. If there is no response 20 days after the last day the notice is published, the filing spouse will be able to move forward with the divorce.
10. If notice of a divorce is served by publication, the court will only be able to address the issues of divorce, Florida real estate owned by both parties and parental responsibility and timesharing for the minor children.