The decision to end your marriage may not have been an easy, but fortunately the actual process of divorce in Florida is fairly simple. This is especially true if you and your spouse are both in agreement about the divorce, you do not have children and you do not have significant property to be divided. You may even qualify to to complete your divorce without a lawyer. If you and your spouse are in disagreement about divorce, are uncertain about child custody issues or property division, it is recommended that you consider divorce mediation, or seek professional legal counsel.
As long as your divorce is straightforward, dissolving your marriage in Florida can be relatively easy. You only need to fill out the required Florida divorce papers with the right information, and then you can file for divorce at your local county court. Divorce paper preparation services like CompleteCase.com are designed to make the process of finding the right documents and filling them out correctly simple and easy.
The information that follows will help you get a general understanding of what it takes to file for divorce in Florida, and should help you move forward with the dissolution of your marriage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC), the divorce rate in 2011 in Florida was 4.5 for every 1,000 residents. While the divorce rate in Florida has lowered steadily over the past few decades, the rate does remain high in relation to other states.
The state of Florida does not have what is known as “fault-based” divorce. Because Florida only accepts no-fault divorces, there is no need to put the fault for divorce on one party. Florida only demands that you state that the marriage is irretrievably broken, or that a spouse has been mentally incapacitated for three or more years.
Florida requires that you file your divorce papers in the county where you live. The state also requires you to have been a resident of the county where you file for six months or longer before you are allowed to file divorce forms.
The website for the Florida Courts contains the divorce papers and most information you need to go through with your divorce. The site includes rules pertaining to family law in Florida, legal opinions related to divorce in the state and a variety of legal forms that you can print out and complete. However, you should be aware that the information contained on the page can be a bit overwhelming. It takes time to go through all of the information, and to determine what pertains to your divorce and specific situation. The Florida Courts website does its best to help you through this process by providing a Self-Help Center, where you can read up on a wide variety of divorce-related subjects. The Self-Help Center also offers a step-by-step guide on filling out the various forms.
The main divorce form required in Florida is the “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage”. You will list both you and your spouse's information on this form, which you will then present to the county clerk to start the divorce process. You also have the option of completing Florida’s divorce papers online with CompleteCase.com. Our process identifies your specific circumstances, and then provides you with the appropriate divorce papers and support to fill out the documents accurately, which helps avoid complications after you file.
Failing to fill out the right divorce paperwork with the correct information can lead to lengthy delays in the divorce process. When you want to make sure everything is done correctly the first time, it can be extremely beneficial to have knowledgeable support like that provided by CompleteCase.com.
Florida requires that you present a notarized copy of your divorce papers to the county clerk in the county where you reside. You can go to a notary public and have your forms notarized, or you can wait until you get to the courthouse. In most Florida counties the court will have a notary available for you to use, for a small fee.
Once your Florida divorce papers are notarized and signed, you can present them to the clerk. You will also be required to pay a filing fee to the state. Once the fee is paid, the clerk will provide you with a copy of your divorce forms with a stamp showing the date that the documents were filed. You will need to make a copy of these forms for your own records, as well as a copy to serve to your spouse.
For your filing to be complete, you will need to serve a copy of your divorce papers to your spouse. You can do this in several ways, including:
Having your spouse or his/her attorney fill out an “Answer and Waiver of Service”.
Have a sheriff serve your spouse.
Have a private process server serve your spouse.
Serve your spouse by “constructive service” - by publishing the notice in a local paper for 30 days.
The easiest option is to have your spouse fill out an “Answer and Waiver of Service”. He or she can find the form at the courthouse, fill it out, have it notarized and delivered to the clerk. If your spouse is not cooperative, you can pay either a sheriff or a private service to serve the divorce papers. Sheriffs are sometimes less expensive, but they may take some time to deliver the papers. A private company is usually faster.
As a last resort, when you cannot locate your spouse, you can publish a notice of the divorce in your local newspaper. This is a more expensive option, but sometimes you do not have much of a choice.
Florida also requires you to give a completed financial affidavit to your spouse, where you list all of your income, assets, debts, etc. You must do this within 45 days of serving your spouse with divorce.
With your spouse served and all forms submitted, you only have to wait for the final decision of the court. In Florida, an uncontested divorce can take a minimum of four weeks to process.