Most likely, you did not enter your marriage with the intention of later getting divorced. Marriages end for a variety of valid reasons, and whatever those reasons may be, you have the right to decide that this is the best path for you and/or your children.
But the process may vary in both cost and complexity. For example, if you have children, high-value assets, or disagreements over how to divide property (or whether the divorce should happen at all), you may need to take additional steps or hire a skilled attorney for legal support.
Here are the 5 basic steps of filing for divorce in Florida:
- Select and file a petition. You must file this petition in the county in which you or your spouse currently lives, and you must state that your marriage is irretrievably broken. The petition you choose depends on whether you share children and/or property with your spouse. You also have the option to file for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, which is more efficient in both time and cost, but you and your spouse must meet certain qualifications.
- File an answer. The spouse who is served with the petition has 20 days to respond to the court. They will identify whether they agree or disagree with each component of the petition. They may also file a counter-petition or raise additional matters.
- File additional paperwork. This may include a financial affidavit, which helps the court determine both alimony and child-support. If you and your spouse have children, you must also file: a) a child-support guidelines worksheet before a child-support hearing, and b) a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit.
- Complete the discovery process. Both spouses must exchange information related to their financial circumstances (e.g. debt, income, tax returns, retirement accounts, etc.) and personal situations (such as relationship with your children). Each spouse may request information they feel will help the court come to a fair resolution.
- The trial. Otherwise known as the contested final hearing, a trial is where a judge makes final decisions regarding any issues you and your spouse have not yet resolved. Both may testify, present evidence, and bring witnesses.
Depending on your location, you may be required to attend mediation with your spouse as an attempt to come to agreements without a court proceeding. If you have children with your spouse, you will also need to create a parenting plan.The judge is required by law to establish regular contact with both parents. The plan includes a variety of factors, such as a time-sharing schedule and the unique responsibilities of each parent. In Florida, spouses with minor children must attend a parenting class as well.
Get in Touch with a Skilled Lawyer Before You File
Divorce is often an emotional and even traumatic process for couples and, especially, their children. Experienced legal counsel can help you navigate this complex procedure, advocate for your best interests, and, if necessary, provide strategic litigation in court. Beatriz Zyne, P.A. supports Miami clients through some of the most difficult events of their lives, and she looks forward to doing the same for you.
Schedule a consultation or call (305) 876-6138 today for skilled and empathetic guidance every step of the way.