Simple divorce (or, in the words of the court, a simplified dissolution of marriage) are only appropriate if the spouses meet certain criteria. Both spouses must have lived in Florida for at least six months. Both spouses also have to meet ALL of the following criteria.
- The marriage can’t be saved.
- The couple has no children under the age of 18 and the wife is not pregnant.
- The assets and debts have been divided and each spouse is happy with the arrangement.
- Neither spouse wants spousal support (or alimony) or more financial information than is already provided.
- The couple is willing to give up their individual right to a trial and appeal.
- Both spouses are willing to go to the clerk’s office to sign the petition (but they do not have to go together).
- Both spouses are willing to attend the final hearing at the same time.
In many cases, simple divorces can be handled by submitting forms to the Clerk of the Court, but you may want to have legal guidance on the process to ensure it is handled properly. These types of divorces can be quite quick, finalized in about a month.
Regular divorce (or, in the words of the court, a regular dissolution of marriage) can be either contested or uncontested. In both situations, one spouse (called the petitioner) asks for the divorce from the other (called the respondent). The petitioner files paperwork with the clerk of the court and they are served to the respondent spouse. The respondent spouse then has the opportunity to respond to the petition in a statement called the answer.
If a divorce is uncontested, the process can be over rapidly. Essentially, the two spouses agree on the terms (including how property and assets should be distributed, child custody and support, and spousal support) in a marital settlement agreement. The spouses provide a financial affidavit within six weeks and attend the final hearing. The agreement is then certified by a judge and becomes final. This entire process can take between 45-60 days to fully process.
Contested divorces occur when spouses cannot or will not agree on the terms of their divorce. Sometimes that disagreement can come from child custody or spousal support issues, or can center around marital property and how it is being divided. These types of divorces require smart, experienced legal representation to ensure that your rights are being protected. Contested divorces take the issue before a judge at a divorce trial, and the judge will decide all of the issues in the case. Obviously, this process can take much longer, but most contested divorces are finalized in under a year.
All divorces are as unique as the people involved, so many of the questions related to your case will, of course, be dictated by your situation.