To get divorced in Florida you must meet two requirements. First you must be a resident of Florida for six months before you can file for divorce. This can be proven by a driver’s license or testimony. Second your marriage must be irretrievably broken. To prove your marriage is broken all you must do is claim it is broken; No other facts are necessary.
A divorce begins when a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed with the Clerk of Court. When you give the clerk your petition you must pay a filing fee. As of August 1, 2014 the filing fee in Brevard Country is $409. Once the divorce is filed the clerk will issue you a Summons. The summons and petition must then be served on the other spouse. You can use the Sherriff’s Office for service or hire a private person to serve the documents.
When a spouse is served in a divorce case they have 20 days to file an Answer to the petition. Failure to Answer within the 20 days can severely impact your rights in the divorce.
Mario, Gunde, Peters, Rhoden & Kelley, LLC has been helping people with their divorce issues since 1976. Divorces involve more than just the hard law and cold facts. We know a divorce can be an intensely personal and traumatic experience. You may be feeling hurt, anger, dismay, or many other emotions. Just talking through your problems and learning your options can ease your mind. To speak to an experienced attorney call (321) 631-0506. Attorneys are available 24/7.
Florida divorce law is not designed to punish the “guilty” and reward the “innocent”. It’s called “no-fault” divorce for a reason — neither party is going to be held accountable for why the marriage failed. There are no grounds such as adultery, abandonment or mental cruelty that have to be proven. All you need to show is that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” – legal language meaning, “I just don’t want to be married anymore”. Some people call this no-fault system “divorce on demand”. However, fault may be considered by the court under special circumstances arising in the determination of children’s issues and the award of alimony.
If your spouse opposes a divorce, under the no-fault system, they can’t prevent you from getting one. So the threat, “I’ll never give you a divorce”, means nothing. If children are involved, the court may, but very rarely does, order the parties into marriage counseling for up to three months. This may slow the process down, but your spouse cannot stop it.
If you are looking for a fast, easy divorce or you want to protect your financial privacy, a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage (also called a Simplified Divorce) is the answer. Your divorce can be cheap because you and your spouse agree on how to dive your debts and assets. You do not have to disclose your financial information to the Court or general public if you use the Simplified procedure.
Uncontested versus Contested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is one where the parties agree on everything: time sharing between the parents and children; how much child support is going to be paid; what is going to be done with the marital home; who will pay what debts; and so on. If all these serious issues are not clearly nailed down, you do not have an uncontested divorce. Leaving even one issue unresolved can create many problems, the sorts of problems that can cause an easy case to suddenly ignite. You and your spouse must arrive at an agreement that resolves all your issues and is perfectly clear as to all your rights to have an uncontested divorce. If the parties cannot agree on all of the issues then the divorce is contested. A judge will decide the issues that the parties cannot settle. Each side will be able to present testimony and other evidence to the Judge. You will usually only get one chance to convince the Judge to see things your way. You better be well prepared. Once a Judge rules it is very hard to get the decision changed. Call our office for a no-charge consultation with an experienced attorney (321) 631-0506.
Florida is called an “equitable distribution” state. Simply put, this means that when dividing property, the division should be fair. There is a presumption that an equal division is the starting point. Remember, Florida divorce is not designed to create a “winner or loser” situation where one party makes off with the lion’s share of the assets.
In making an equitable distribution a court will first separate the husband and wife’s non-marital assets and non-martial debts. Non-martial assets can include a home or car that a party owned before the marriage or inheritance assets even if they were acquired during the marriage. Non-marital debt can include preexisting loans or money owed for property or services.
After setting aside non-marital property the court will divide the marital property. While the presumption is the division will be equal, there are reasons a court could consider making an unequal distribution. For example if one spouse works hard and makes the income for the family and cares for the children while the other spouse spends their time drinking and gambling, a court could very well make an unequal distribution. If a spouse out of spite destroyed a marital house or car the court would almost certainly make an unequal distribution.
The subject of equitable distribution is complex and we have presented two very simple examples just to give you some insight on the subject. For a free consultation call our office at (321) 631-0506.