Florida Divorce Process
When you are contemplating divorce, you need to understand the divorce process, your rights and obligations, and the potential outcomes of the proceedings. At the Law Offices of Gale H. Moore, we emphasize the importance of communicating openly with our clients and helping you recognize the issues that will guide the course of your case.
Below, you will find information about proceeding through the divorce process in Florida. As you will see, the divorce process (even at its most simple) is complex enough to warrant legal representation. If your divorce is contested or may become contested, it is especially important to retain a lawyer to protect your rights and interests.
Step 1: File a divorce petition. To start the divorce process, one or both parties must file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” in the county circuit court where one party resides. The parties must also file additional paperwork at this time, such as a financial affidavit or a marital settlement agreement, depending on the circumstances of the marriage. If financial statements are not filed with the petition, each party must submit a financial affidavit within 45 days of the service of the petition or several days before any temporary hearing.
Step 2: Answer the divorce petition. If one spouse filed the divorce petition, the other spouse has 20 days from the date of being served to file an answer to the divorce petition. The answer should address the issues in the initial petition. Additional issues should be addressed in a counter-petition.
Step 3: Prepare for a divorce hearing. After the initial pleadings are filed, the parties should follow through on preparing any discovery needed to adequately prepare the case.
Step 4: Attend required mediation. Mediation is a procedure to assist divorcing couples in working out an arrangement for reaching a divorce settlement. Its purpose is not to save a marriage, but to help parties reach solutions and arrive at agreeable terms for handling child custody, child support, property division, and other divorce issues. Pinellas County has court-provided mediation services in some cases, but in all cases at least one mediation session is required before the date for a divorce trial can be set.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
Some couples are eligible to end their marriages through a simplified procedure. You can use the simplified process if you and your spouse both agree to the use the simplified proceeding, you have no minor or dependent children, you are not pregnant, at least one of you has lived in Florida for the past six months, you agree on the division of property, neither party is seeking spousal support, and you both agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
There are substantial differences between a simplified and a regular dissolution of marriage. With a simplified dissolution, financial information may be requested by either party but disclosing financial information is not required.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Clearwater Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering divorce, it is in your best interests to have an experienced family law attorney with you every step of the way. For more information about the divorce process, please contact the Law Offices of Gale. H. Moore to talk about your situation.