Divorce, the dissolution of a marriage, is a complicated process. What makes it incredibly complicated is that the laws governing the process of getting a divorce vary from state to state. If you’re seeking a divorce in Florida, we can explain the steps involved. If there are no minor children, the couple is not pregnant, and they agree on the property division, they may qualify for a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.” Couples who don’t meet those qualifications must follow these steps to file a “Regular Dissolution of Marriage”:
- Step One: One spouse files a petition. This petition must state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and is filed in the circuit court where one or both spouses live. Throughout the case, the person who files this petition will be known as “the petitioner.”
- Step Two: The other spouse much file an answer. Within 20 days, the other spouse, known as “the respondent,” must file an answer telling the court which parts of the petition he or she agrees with, disagrees with, or does not have knowledge of. The respondent can also counter-petition to raise additional issues, for which the petitioner has to then file an answer.
- Step Three: Additional Paperwork is Required. The paperwork includes a financial affidavit that must be filed within 45 days of the petition, a child support guidelines worksheet, and a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit must be filed if the case involves minor children.
- Step Four: Discovery reveals financial details. Aside from the financial affidavit filed with the court, financial information must be given to the other party. These mandatory disclosures include proof of income, bank accounts, retirement accounts, statements about your debt, credit cards, and tax returns. Both sides have to reveal financial details so that each spouse knows all the pertinent information.
- Step Five: Mediation helps work out the details. Typically, mediation is required to help spouses reach an agreement on anything undecided.
- Step Six: A parenting plan is created. When minor children are involved, the court must approve a parenting plan. This plan has to include how the parties plan to share tasks, time, and responsibilities regarding raising the children and how the parents will communicate. A parenting class is also required.
- Step Seven: A judge finalizes the divorce. In a final hearing, or trial, a judge will hear from both sides, and each side will be allowed to present evidence, including testimony. Once the hearing is complete, the judge will enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage.