Overview: What is simple dissolution of marriage?
The Florida law on marriage has a procedure to lessen the time it takes to get divorced. It is referred to as simple dissolution or an uncontested divorce. Read on to see if you qualify for simplified dissolution of marriage.
Step 1: Do I qualify for a Simple Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce)?
If you can answer true to all of the below then you qualify for a simplified divorce.
- You and your spouse agree that the marriage cannot be saved (irreconcilable differences).
- You have no minor children together, and the wife is not pregnant.
- You have agreed on how to divide your assets and liabilities.
- Neither the petitioner nor the respondent (see below) is seeking support or alimony.
- Both of you are willing to give up the right to trial and appeal.
- You and your spouse are both willing to go into the clerk’s office or courthouse to sign the paperwork.
- You and your spouse are both willing to go to a final hearing.
Step 2: I qualify, how do I file my divorce petition?
You will need to complete a form called a petition for simplified dissolution in Florida. The person that files the petition is called the Petitioner, and the other party (your spouse), will be called the Respondent throughout the divorce proceedings.
Let’s go over how to complete this form. First, you can download a sample form (Opens in PDF Format) The petition must contain the following information:
- Name and county of the court you are filing. Usually, this is the county you live.
- Your address as well as your spouse’s.
- Date and location of your marriage.
- A statement that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
- That you do not have any minor children and that the wife is not pregnant.
- That you have divided up assets and bills by agreement. You have the option of also filing a marital settlement agreement which shows how you divided up your assets and bills. If you need help with the division of property please see my post on dividing up marital property.
- Whether the wife wants to be known by her former name. If she does, then she must provide the surname she wants after divorce.
- A statement that you are entering the dissolution voluntarily, under no threat or pressure.
Step 3: How long does a simple or uncontested divorce take?
Not long, because once you file the required paperwork you should be able to schedule a court date within 30 days.
Step 4: Going to Court for Divorce in Florida
I’m often asked: “Do I have to go to court for uncontested divorce? Florida law on marriage requires that you and your spouse both appear for a five or ten-minute hearing to finalize your divorce. The judge will ask both of you several questions to confirm that you want to get divorced and then will sign a divorce order. Also, many districts use Zoom so that you can often appear by video or by telephone for the hearing.
Step 5: Finalize your Florida divorce.
Finally, the last part of a simplified dissolution in Florida is to take all the actions required by your divorce decree. Important things might include:
- Dividing up the marital property
- Changing names on banking accounts, credit cards, etc…
- Selling assets as agreed.
- Changing titles on houses and other property.
Now, let’s look at an example to see how a simplified dissolution divorce would proceed.
Dave and Dottie decide that after four years of marriage they want to call it quits because of irreconcilable differences. After making the decision to break up, the husband consults with me to find out more about the process and the best way to proceed. I ask him basic questions to find out how to best approach his divorce. I discover that they have no children and that Dottie is not pregnant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is dissolution of marriage the same as divorce?
In Florida, yes it does. The technical term for divorce in Florida is dissolution.
Does Florida Have legal separation?
No. Unlike some states, Florida does not have legal separation. Even if you live at different addresses, you are legally married until the court orders a dissolution or divorce.
How much does a divorce cost in Florida?
Divorce expenses are usually broken down into two types-costs and attorney’s fees. Let’s take a look at both.
Costs of Divorce
Costs of divorce. Generally speaking, costs refer to everything but attorney fees. For instance, court costs, and the fee to file a divorce petition. The current average filing fee in Florida is about $400. Whoever files for divorce also must serve the divorce papers to the other party, which can be anywhere from $50 to $100 to hire a process server. However, if you cannot find your spouse you must have to hire an investigator to locate him or her, which could drive up the costs. Other possible costs include:
- Property Appraisers if you can’t agree on the value of a certain marital property.
- CPA or financial professionals.
- Attorneys (see below)
- Court reporters
Hiring an attorney can also drive up the price of a divorce. Attorney’s fees can vary widely based on many factors such as location, experience, and more. I would estimate attorney fees to be average between $3,00 and $5,000. However, the cost of hiring an experienced family law attorney can benefit you in many ways, including:
- Make sure you get the best possible settlement.
- Knowledge of court procedures, thus saving you time.
- Preparing all required forms.
- Negotiating with your spouse of their attorney.
Do I have to have to go to court for uncontested divorce in Florida?
Yes, but only for a five-minute final hearing! The judge or perhaps your attorney will ask whether you really want a divorce and whether you have been pressured to sign the divorce papers. So long as you admit you want a divorce and nobody coerced you, the judge should grant your divorce. Also, many courts allow for video appearances (think Zoom) which makes getting a divorce even easier.
Where to get divorce papers
If you decide to go with a do-it-yourself divorce, head to flcourts.org. On this site, there are numerous forms that you can use to file for dissolution. These forms have been approved by the Florida Supreme Court for use in all districts in Florida. There are many other websites that offer to help you prepare divorce papers, but the quality and costs vary so buyers beware.
Where do you go to file for divorce?
You have two choices how you file-the internet or in the court that has personal jurisdiction over you or your spouse. If you chose to online you will have to use the Florida Courts E-portal, their home page is found here. Once you file your petition online, then you must file all documents online until the end of your case. The same is true if you file by mail or at the courthouse. Now, where you file depends on where you live. Florida law on marriage says you or your spouse must file in the family court division of the court district you live in. For example, if you live in Pinellas or Pasco County, you must file in the Sixth Judicial District. Also, it is not necessary that both you and your spouse live in the same county during a divorce.
The Florida Bar has do-it-yourself family law forms that can help you with your divorce paperwork, the homepage can be found here.
Conclusion Simplified Divorce in Florida
Florida law provides a simplified way to dissolve your marriage. You must meet all the requirements. If you do, you can save time and money and achieve your goal of divorce. No guide can provide all your questions, so if you have additional questions, please call attorney Joel Lipinski at 727-643-8964 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation today!