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8 Florida Divorce Regulations You Must Know Before Filing for a Divorce

8 Florida Divorce Regulations You Must Know Before Filing for a Divorce

Undergoing a divorce is an unsettling and likely one of the most hectic phases in a person’s life. Moreover, the legal procedures involved in the process make it difficult and complicated for the individuals involved. Therefore, many individuals seek to have the necessary guidance, which can help them in their divorce proceedings. Before filing a divorce in the state of Florida, it is important to understand the legal aspects and regulations of the divorce process, which can only be clarified by a Florida divorce lawyer. Also, the legal procedures of divorce in Florida come under 175-pages long Florida Family Law Rules of Civil Procedure. These legal procedures are composed of complex rules, statutes and variable amendments, which can mostly be understood and explained by an expert lawyer. Here are eight (8) most important rules and regulations in Florida, which can prove to be useful for clients who aregoing through the divorce process.

1. Florida has No-Fault Divorce Laws with Specific Residency Requirements

Florida is strictly a no-fault divorce state, which means that you are not required to state specific reasons for ending your marriage. Apart from this, there is no need to state accusations of abandonment, adultery, or abuse from either party because in the eyes of state law, neither party is considered to be at fault.

Although some states do allow the couple to declare multiple grounds for divorce, Florida court only requires you to give an official statement of an “irretrievably broken” marriage or mental incompetence.

Are there any residency requirements before filing a divorce in Florida?

Before filing a divorce in Florida, either party must have the residency of the state for a minimum of six months. There is no requirement for both parties to be a resident of Florida.Only one of them needs to be the resident. For verification of the place of residence, the court demands for a party’s Florida driver’s license, Florida voter’s registration card, or Florida identification card. Another option for verification is the use of witnesses to state that a person has lived in the state for a minimum of six months.

2. Florida Provides Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

The residents of Florida can end their marriage in a simple manner with a procedure called the simplified dissolution of marriage.

What are the rules for the Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in Florida?

The requirements to get a divorce in simplified manner are:

  • Both spouses should agree with the dissolution proceeding.
  • Couples should not have minor or dependent children.
  • Spouses should not have any adopted children.
  • The wife must not be pregnant.
    Six-month citizenship of Florida (for at least one partner).
  • Both spouses must have an agreement on the division of assets and debts.
  • Both spouses must state an irretrievably broken marriage.

What are the difficulties you may face?

The process of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage can become difficult when:

  • A spouse refuses to attend the final hearing.
  • Spouse seeks alimony.
  • Spouse refuses to work out the division of assets and liabilities.
  • Spouse doesn’t give up his/her right to appeal.

3. Regular Dissolution of Marriage in Florida

Regular Dissolution of Marriage can be a contested divorce in which both spouses do not agree on issues such as property division, asset distribution, ownership of marital home, child support, and entitlement of alimony. The first step towards the initiation of a contested divorce is to file a Petition for a Dissolution of Marriage. The petition is filed in the county where the couple last lived together or where either party currently resides. The document is filed in the circuit court, and the jurisdiction hears the divorce petition. Throughout the case, the person who initiates the case by filing a petition is designated as the petitioner.

What are the requirements for filing a contested divorce petition in Florida?

Petition for a contested divorce includes:

  • Statement of an irretrievably broken marriage
  • Statement of relief
  • Financial affidavit
  • Child support/parenting plan (if applicable)
  • Payment of spousal support
  • Agreement of division of debts and assets (in the case of simplified dissolution of marriage)

What are the challenges you may face in completing the documents?

The circuit court in Florida requires you to complete the following documents for a contested divorce:

  • Copy of the summons
  • Domestic relations cover sheet
  • Attested certification/Certification of dissolution

4. Certain Options are Available for Serving Your Spouse in Florida

After filing the petition, a case number is provided to the petitioner by the court’s clerk. The case number is used to request the summons. A copy of the divorce petition and the summons is personally served to the spouse of the petitioner.

What are the regulations for serving a summons in Florida?

The petitioner is required to:

  • Serve a copy of the summons to the spouse.
  • Serve a copy of the summons personally to the spouse either through a Marshall or a process server.
  • Serve the copy of the summons within 120 days of filing the petition.

What are the problems you may face?

The most common issue faced while serving a spouse with the summons is the inability to locate the spouse. Also, sometimes the spouse doesn’t voluntarily accept the summons. Under these circumstances, there are certainly other options available in Florida to serve your spouse with a copy of the summons. These options include:

  • Sherriff’s service
  • Service by publication
  • Special process server
  • Special court order

5. Filing an Answer for a Contested Divorce in Florida

If you are not the petitioner and instead you have been served with the documents, then the deadline to file an answer to the petition is 20 days.

What are the rules for filing an answer to the divorce petition in Florida?

The rules are:

  • You have to file an answer within 20 days of being served.
  • You have full freedom to admit or deny the specific allegations in the divorce petition.
  • You have the option to file a counter-petition.
  • You can make specific claims, raise additional matters, and request for relief from the court in the counter-petition.

What are the issues you may face?

The documents requirements for filing an answer are:

  • Domestic relations cover sheet
  • Copy of the summons
  • Attested certification/Certification of dissolution

Within 20 days, the petitioner will have to answer to the counter-petition.

6. Complying with Mandatory Disclosures in Florida

Every divorce case in the state of Florida requires the filing or exchange of specific documents and papers between the parties. All the documents must be filed in the court within 45 days of the service. Make sure to consult with your divorce lawyer.

What types of document are required for the disclosure of mandatory information?

The documents include:

  • Certificate of Compliance
  • Financial Affidavit
  • Child Support Guidelines
  • Worksheet (if applicable)
  • Uniform Child Custody
  • Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
  • Affidavit(if applicable)
  • Income Statement
  • List of Debts
  • List of Assets
  • Tax Returns
  • Bank Statements
  • Credit Card Statements(if applicable)
  • Personal Financial Statements

7. Division of Property during a Contested Divorce in Florida

In terms of property distribution, Florida is a state of “equitable distribution”. During a contested divorce, equitable distribution means that the property is divided fairly and not necessarily as an equivalent split.

What are the rules for the distribution of property?

While dividing the property in a Florida divorce, the court takes into account the following factors:

  • The financial conditions of both parties.
  • The time duration of the marriage.
  • The contributions such as education and child care made by either spouse during the marriage.
  • Any interruption in educational opportunity and personal career of either party.
  • The contribution of either spouse to the education or personal career of the other party.
  • The desire of retaining marital home or any asset (such as a corporation, business, or professional practice).
  • The role of either spouse in production, enhancement, and acquisition of income.
  • The intentional destruction or dissipation of marital assets within 2 years of filing the divorce petition.

8. Rules for Spousal Support in Florida

Spousal support is also known as alimony in Florida. Spousal support is determined based on the need for support and the ability to pay.

What factors decide the entitlement for Alimony in Florida?

Florida court takes into account the following factors for awarding alimony:

  • The time duration and standard of living of the marriage.
  • Age, physical health, and emotional condition of both the spouses.
  • The financial condition comprising income resources, marital assets, non-marital assets, and liabilities of both the spouses.
  • The educational level, earning capacities, and employability of both the spouses.
  • The contributions made by both spouses such as child care, education, and homemaking during the period of the marriage.
  • The tax treatment of alimony awards to both the spouses.

Reasons for Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

Here are 4 reasons why you should hire a Florida divorce attorney:

  • For expert advice: Divorce attorneys are experts at giving legal counsel. As the state of Florida doesn’t support the even splitting of marital assets, it will be a wise decision to have a divorce lawyer by your side during the divorce process. They can help you inthe negotiations for property division, child custody issues, asset and debt issues, and liability problems.
  • For avoiding mistakes: People often make mistakes when they go through the legal process of divorce on their own. Having an attorney by your side will help in avoiding mistakes related to document submission, financial record compilation, asset management, settlements, and negotiations.
  • For completing the documents: Sometimes it becomes difficult for an individual to fill and submit the documents properly or on time. Divorce attorneys know exactly how to complete and fill all the required documentation for the initiation and continuation of a divorce process. They can help you in completing the documents required in a simplified and contested dissolution of marriage, serving the spouse, filing an answer, and mandatory disclosures.
  • For mediation and other issues: Divorce lawyers act as a mediator between the couple. They also help in resolving issues related to spousal support, child custody, property division, asset and liability distribution.

The Bottom Line

Before you take any legal action regarding divorce in the state of Florida, it is very essential to have the necessary guidance of an experienced Florida divorce lawyer. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can easily help you with negotiations and smoothly handle your case.