Step-by-Step: The Divorce Process in Florida
Executing a divorce can appear at first glance to be a daunting process, fraught with multiple requirements and expectations as well as opportunities to make mistakes. Indeed, the divorce process in Florida can be quite complex depending on a couple’s assets, intentions, and even attitudes. To simplify the Florida process, here is a timeline of events for executing a divorce, step-by-step:
File Your Forms
In the state of Florida, the initial form to file for divorce is one filed for “dissolution of marriage”. The form must be filed at the clerk’s office of the court of the county in which the filing individual lives. Additionally, the filing individual must have been a resident of that county for at least six months prior to the filing for the dissolution of marriage. The form should list all issues for the court to address, including assets, custody of children, child support, alimony, etc.
Serving Your Forms
After filing the form seeking dissolution of marriage, an individual seeking divorce must serve the petition to his or her spouse. If the individual’s spouse is willing, they may accept the petition (and should in that case complete a form entitled “Answer and Waiver of Service”). Alternatively, the individual seeking a divorce can utilize a local sheriff’s office or private process servers to serve his or her spouse with the dissolution of marriage petition.
Fulfilling Your Documentation Requirements
In the state of Florida, both spouses must complete a financial affidavit, an official list of each spouse’s income, assets, debts, and other types of financial documents. Blank financial affidavits can be obtained from court clerk’s offices and must be accompanied by documentation.
Dividing Property and Making Provisions
Couples must at this point reach an agreement and receive approval from the court for their agreement. This process may happen simply through collaboration between the spouses, through mediation, or even through trial, affected greatly by the ability of the individuals to act cooperatively to resolve issues such as custody arrangements, division of property, awards of alimony, and child support.
Complying with the Order
Once the parties reach agreement, whether by collaboration, mediation, or trial, and the court approves the divorce order, the newly separated individuals are required to comply with the order. This includes compliance with custody and visitation provisions, as well as alimony and child support payments. Failure to do so may allow an ex-spouse to pursue legal action to ensure compliance with the divorce order and even to recover damages from the failure to comply.
While the process for divorce in Florida can be summarized briefly, the execution of the process of divorce can be a frustrating, stressful, and even error-prone endeavor. One of the best ways to protect an individual’s rights and interests throughout the process of divorce is to retain the services of a qualified divorce attorney, particularly if one’s spouse has already done so. If you are considering a divorce or separation, contact our family law attorneys at Schwartz | White at 561-391-9943 today for a consultation.