When it comes to divorce, Florida is a no-fault state; a marriage may be deemed irretrievably broken if either party decides that they no longer wish to be married. However, there is a legal process that must be completed when getting a divorce, and spouses who want to end their marriage are required to follow it.
What are the steps for getting a divorce? We’ve outlined them for you in order. The divorce process is straight-forward, but it does take time and each step must be followed for the courts to award a divorce.
1. File a Petition
The initial step in the divorce process is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. To file for divorce in Florida, at least one of the spouses must have been a legal resident of Florida for the six months immediately preceding the filing. Is it better to be the spouse who files? While there may be a psychological benefit, there is no legal benefit to being the petitioner.
2. Request Temporary Orders
If matters about financial support or children are an issue, then temporary orders for support and custody should be requested. These orders typically take a few days to arrange and remain in place until a full court hearing is held.
3. Serve Your Spouse
The person who files for divorce must be able to provide proof that their spouse received a copy of the divorce petition. This is accomplished by having them served with the paperwork. If you are working with an attorney, they may handle this for you. If not, you can enlist the services of a process server.
4. Await the Response
After being served, the spouse must file a response to the petition. Any disputes or disagreements about matters like custody, property division or support should be included in this response. The respondent has 20 days to file a response.
If there are any disagreements when getting a divorce, spouses should attempt to negotiate a solution. If they are unable to do so by themselves or with the help of a mediator, they may need to go to trial. This step alone will have save money in attorney’s fees if both parties can come to an agreement on issues like custody, financial support, division of assets and many other decisions which must be made. Remember, if you can’t make these decisions with your ex-spouse, then a court will decide for you. The latter will cost must more.
6. Go to Mediation/ Trial
If the two parties cannot work out their differences, then they first go to mediation. If an agreement is not reached by both parties and a mediator, then you go to trial and present the issues to a judge. After hearing from both sides, the judge will rule on the divorce agreement.
7. Get Your Divorce Decree
Once the divorce agreement has been finalized, a divorce decree, or Judgement of Dissolution of Marriage, will be issued. This officially terminates the marriage and details how any marital property, marital debts, custody, support and other relevant matters are to be handled. Some spouses choose to draw up their own draft of the dissolution order and submit it to the court. If the document is found to be acceptable, a judge will approve it.
While it is fairly easy to list the steps to file for divorce, the dissolution of a marriage presents both emotional and legal challenges, so it is wise to have someone on your side to protect your interests and help you navigate the process of divorce. With more than 25 years of experience in all areas of divorce and family law, attorney Eric C. Cheshire knows how to guide clients through this turbulent time. If you are considering a divorce, contact Cheshire Family Law today to arrange a consultation.