Divorce:  Regular Dissolution of Marriage in Florida

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Regular Dissolution of Marriage in Florida begins by filing petition for dissolution of marriage with the circuit court in the county where you and your spouse last lived together or in a county where either party resides. Either spouse may file for Florida dissolution of marriage.

The acting party is known as the “Petitioner” for Florida Divorce.  Your Florida divorce lawyer will act on your behalf.  The petitioner for the Florida Divorce must allege that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” The petition additionally states what the petitioner is asking of the court.

Your spouse must file an answer within 20 days of being served with the Florida divorce petition.  The spouse must respond to the matters addressed in the initial petition, and may choose to include a counter-petition for dissolution of marriage raising additional issues that the spouse requests the court to address.

Financial disclosure is required and automatic. Florida Court rules governing dissolution of marriage require that each spouse provide financial documents and a completed financial affidavit within 45 days of the service of the petition. Failure to provide the required financial information by the petitioner may result in the court dismissing the case. Failure to provide the required information by the spouse that was served with the petition may result in the court not considering that party’s requests. Although filing of a financial affidavit is mandatory in all cases in which financial relief is sought by the counter party, the parties may ask the court to modify the other requirements.

If there are children of the marriage, a child-support guideline worksheet also must be filed with the court at or before any hearing on child support. This requirement may not be waived by the parties or the court.

Florida divorce mediation is a common next step. Mediation is a voluntary attempt to assist you and your spouse in reaching an agreement in order to avoid a protracted legal process or a trial. The purpose of mediation is not to save the marriage. The purpose is to allow the spouses to voluntarily reach agreeable terms for the dissolution of marriage.

Through mediation and negotiation spouses may agree on some or all of the issues before or after the petition for Florida divorce is filed. Some issues may include the division of property, a parenting plan, spousal support, or child support. If the parties agree on certain issues, a written agreement signed by both parties is drafted and presented to the court. When there are few or no uncontested issues a dissolution of marriage can become final in a short amount of time, allowing the parties a quick fresh start in a new life.

However, if any issues remain there will be a contested final hearing (also known as a trial). In the event of a contested final hearing each party will present evidence and testimony to the judge. The judge will make the final decisions on the contested issues.

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