Are you thinking about filing for divorce? If so, you are not alone. Florida’s divorce rate is 3.4%, one of the highest in the country.
Filing for divorce can be a complex legal process if you do not know what to do or what to expect. At Griffin Family Law, PLLC, I am here to help answer your questions and ensure you fully understand your rights in the divorce process.
Here, you can learn more about what to expect when filing for divorce and how the legal process works.
Types of Divorce in Florida
In Florida, divorce is called the dissolution of marriage. You have two options:
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
This is a viable option if you do not have children and can agree on most aspects of the divorce. You must not be seeking alimony either.
Regular Dissolution of Marriage
For any other situation besides what was mentioned above, you will file a regular dissolution of marriage. This includes contested divorces related to property or assets and legal matters and responsibilities related to children.
The Steps to Divorce in Florida
While each situation is unique, the basic steps in a regular dissolution of marriage in Florida can be found here.
File the Divorce Petition
The first step in a divorce is to file the petition. The person who files the petition is the “petitioner,” and it is filed in the circuit court. The petition must state that the marriage is irretrievably broken. You must file the petition in the county where you last lived together or where you (the petitioner) currently live.
Answer the Petition
After filing the petition, the next step is for the respondent (the person the petition is served to) must compose and file an answer. The respondent has 20 days to answer the petition. The answer, which may include a counter-petition, includes what the other spouse does or does not agree to in the petition and may include additional things to present in court. If a counter-petition is included, the petitioner must file a response in 20 days.
Gathering Information for Discovery
Discovery is an important part of any divorce. It is when your attorney gathers information related to the divorce. It is not uncommon for one party to try and hide assets in this situation.
Hiring a divorce lawyer means you have someone who knows how the discovery process works and will ensure all related information is found and used to determine a fair divorce settlement.
The financial affidavit must be filed within 45 days of serving the petition. Some of the information required on this form include retirement accounts, bank accounts, credit cards, proof of income, and other accounts that show debt.
Negotiating the Divorce Terms
In Florida, divorce mediation is required if no agreement can be reached or if there are issues related to the dissolution of a marriage. However, mediation may not be required if you are a domestic violence victim.
Your divorce attorney will represent your needs and rights related to alimony, property division, and other elements of your divorce.
Creating a Parenting Plan
Creating a parenting plan is one of the final steps of a divorce in Florida. This plan will address issues related to the child or children involved. Some of the elements included in the parenting plan include each parent’s involvement in raising the children, a time-sharing schedule, how communication with the children will work, and which parent will handle school, health, and other related matters.
The parenting plan is also used to determine child support in these cases.
Going to Trial
This step is only required if you and your spouse cannot agree on the financial issues related to your divorce or your children. If your case goes to court, it will be heard by a judge.
During the trial, your attorney will represent your interests and rights to the judge. This may include presenting evidence, testimony, and more. After the trial, the judge will decide on all issues not settled during negotiations.
If you do not feel that the judge’s decision was fair, you can file an appeal and request a new hearing.
Finalizing Your Florida Divorce
After all, the elements of the dissolution of marriage are settled; the last step is for the judge to sign the “order of dissolution” or Final Judgement.
If your case was settled without going to court, the petitioner’s lawyer will draft the judgment and have both parties sign it.
I Can Help with Your Florida Divorce
Having legal representation through the divorce process can be extremely beneficial. I know Florida’s laws and can help you understand your legal rights. The first step is to call my office to schedule an appointment.
I understand how emotional and challenging divorce can be. I can help take some of the stress of the situation away and ensure you get the best possible outcome for your case.