Each Florida circuit (composed of single or multiple counties) could have specific requirements and it is advisable to verify with a knowledgeable attorney in the jurisdiction.
Preparing the Dissolution of Marriage Forms
Ensure that you have the right divorce forms, as termed in Florida, the “dissolution of marriage” from the correct circuit court. The divorce should be filed in the county of residence, and it is required that you are a county resident for a minimum of six months prior to divorce filing.
The “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” form should be completed first. If you are filing for divorce, then you are the “petitioner” and your spouse is the “respondent”.
There is ‘no fault’ divorce in Florida. Your only requirement is to show that your marriage is completely and irretrievably broken. The other reason you can show is that you have a mentally incapacitated spouse for more than three years. Other causes may also be considered by the court, like infidelity, fault when there is a decision of parental responsibility, division of property or alimony.
If you, along with your spouse, have reached an agreement on the division of property, and neither one of you is asking alimony, and there is no children below 18 years of age, then you can file for “simplified dissolution of marriage”.
Filing the Petition
When you file for divorce, it means that you have submitted the petition for dissolution of marriage to the office of the clerk of circuit court for that county where the filing is being done by you. You must notarize your petition before you file it with the court. Ensure that you have a copy of that petition.
Serving the Forms on Your Spouse
You must give a petition copy to your spouse for the dissolution of marriage. This is termed “serving” the petition. A number of ways exist on how to serve a petition to your spouse.
If your spouse concurs, your spouse or the attorney of the spouse can straightforwardly accept the service. A form “Answer and Waiver of Service” should be completed by your spouse. This form must be first signed and then notarized.
Alternatively, you can have your county’s sheriff office deliver your petition to the spouse. Verify with the office of the county clerk whether it is possible. This is dependent on where you live and may not be available in all areas.
In case your spouse is resident in a separate or different county, you must require that county’s sheriff office or private process server to serve the petition to your spouse. In case you are unable to locate your spouse, it is still possible to serve her or him through “constructive service”. This means a notice being published in any local newspaper for a period of 30 days. You must pay the newspaper a fee for this notice.
Disclosures of Financial Nature
The State of Florida needs you to do a completed and then signed financial affidavit which your spouse must receive within 45 days of you serving the petition for dissolution of marriage. The kinds of documents and information you may expect include:
- Bank statements
- Personal financial statements
- Tax returns
- Credit card statements
The above list of financial documentation can also include other financial information which the court or your spouse, the ‘repondent’, requests prior to the divorce.
If you have any questions about how to file for divorce in Florida or would like to speak to us about your options, please contact us at (813) 518-7411. We represent clients during stressful and difficult times in their lives. We are empathetic, responsive, and push for a quick resolution. We look forward to helping you resolve your issue quickly, fairly, and in a way that will help you to return to the stable, predictable life that you deserve.