How Do You Begin the Divorce Process in Florida?
In Florida the divorce process is known as a “dissolution of marriage.” Divorces begin when you or your spouse (or the party’s respective attorney) files a petition known as Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This petition must state the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” and include what is being asked of the court (e.g. distribution of property and assets, time sharing, etc. in addition to the legal dissolution of your marriage).
The other spouse must be served a copy of the petition and has 20 days from receipt to respond to the terms outlined in the petition. Additional paperwork from both parties are required to be submitted to the court, including a financial affidavit and a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit if the divorcing couple has children.
If both parties agree on how to divide assets, property, debt, and responsibilities concerning any children, divorce proceedings can be finalized without going to trial, but the terms of the divorce must be approved by a judge (especially if children are involved). If not, the divorcing spouses must attend mediation to see if an agreement can be made. Failure to come to an agreement will force the matters to be settled in court with a trial proceeding known as a contested final hearing.
When a divorce is unexpected or events leading to the divorce are emotionally charged, a dissolution of a marriage can become quite stressful. A competent and aggressive attorney is who you need to help you fight for your rights in the divorce proceedings.