In the state of Florida, filing for divorce or ‘dissolution of marriage’ as it is more commonly called, can be overwhelming. Should you be considering getting a divorce and looking to find out how to go about it, we have compiled a list of the 10 things you need to know before contacting an attorney and beginning the official process. This guide will run you through the process from start to finish as well as provide guidance on where to get the divorce forms you may need, the cost of divorce and what options may be available to you in terms of completing a divorce online.
- The Requirements for Filing for Divorce
https://smartasset.com/retirement/florida-divorce-lawsShould you or your spouse decide that you wish to file for divorce, state law requires that at least one of you is a resident of the state of Florida or, alternatively, that either of you is part of an armed force that is stationed within the state. In order to successfully file for an uncontested divorce in Florida, both spouses need to agree that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage and that there are ‘irreconcilable differences’. If either one of the spouses’ contests this breakdown or there is a child involved, a court may require that the couple undergo counseling for up to 3 months before a divorce can be concluded. Florida is one of the few states which does not require ‘fault’ as a reason for divorce.
- Documents you will need
In order to finalize a divorce in Florida, courts will need access to a number of divorce documents including copies of tax returns, bank statements, mortgage information, and any other relevant financial information. Having this information readily available will save you time and money and make the process of divorce as inexpensive as possible. Additionally, you should compile a list of the major family possessions within your household as well as a household budget. Courts will use this information to decide they can contain the marital home by one spouse or if they should divide these possessions.
- How to Start the Process
In Florida, the divorce process begins when either spouse files a petition of the dissolution of the marriage at the Family Department of your local court. The court then produces the details of the divorce and prepares the necessary paperwork which is served on the other spouse who is given time to respond. Should there not be any contention between the spouses as to how assets should be divided or how the responsibility of caring for the children should be divided, the divorce can be concluded without a trial.
- Dividing Marital Assets and Property
The assets which are accrued during a marriage are called marital assets should be divided fairly during a divorce. There will usually be assets which each spouse owned prior to getting married and these are referred to as non-marital assets. These assets can be kept separate by each spouse and not included in marital assets. When it comes to marital assets, including property, courts will divide assets equally unless there is a cause for an unequal distribution. When making this decision, a judge will consider the financial circumstances of each spouse and their contribution made during the course of the marriage. The division of assets between spouses is uniform across all states within the U.S.
Find more information about splitting of marital assets by clicking here.
- Alimony and Custody
Alimony refers to the financial contribution or support which is required to be paid after divorce to continue that which was provided during the course of the marriage. There need to be valid reasons which are well-founded in order for a court to order payment of alimony. A judge will consider the age and health of each spouse, their earning potential, the standard of living maintained during the marriage as well as the length of the marriage.
In the event that spouses cannot come to a conclusion on the custody of their children, the court will make a decision based on what is considered to be in the best interests of the children. Courts will usually grant each spouse shared the responsibility of the children unless there is a clear reason that doing so would be detrimental to the children’s wellbeing. The court will consider the overall capabilities of each spouse to care for the children and their ability to provide for them when making a decision on custody.
- Child Support
There are laws in the state of Florida that cover specific guidelines and criteria which a court must refer to when making decisions on what support is needed for each child and how much each spouse should contribute. A judge will review the income of each spouse as well as the needs of each child from a health and general wellbeing point of view. In some cases, where suitable, a court may place certain assets of the family within a trust to safeguard them and provide guaranteed support for the children in the future.
- Debt from the Marriage
Before entering a marriage, spouses may already have debt, such as a student loan for example. This debt is not considered when dividing debts upon dissolution of marriage. The debts which are incurred during the course of the marriage will be divided equally between spouses. Should there be a mortgage, the responsibility to cover the mortgage will be split equally between spouses. Should one spouse decide to stay in the home, the mortgage will be restructured so that that spouse is the sole owner and person responsible for mortgage payments.
In many cases, filing for a divorce will affect taxes for spouses who are Florida residents. The transfer of property may affect a spouse’s tax filing status as a result of the divorce, taxation on the payment of alimony or certain dependency deductions made for children. This can be a complicated process and is not recommended to be navigated without an attorney.
- Divorce over the Internet
In today’s digital world, filing for divorce over the internet has also become possible. Multiple websites and resources have been created to make this possible however this may only be suitable for more simple cases where little to no disputes exist as to the conditions of the divorce and how assets are distributed. You can make use of websites such as 3stepdivorce.com or completecase.com which provide spouses with easy to use and understand online forms to institute divorce proceedings. You can expect to pay a fee for the services provided but this might be considered minimal considering you could avoid long waiting times at a courthouse. Here you can find a guide about getting a divorce over the internet in Florida.
We hope these essentials of what you need to know in terms of filing for divorce in Florida have been useful to you. Please note that while we have covered the most noteworthy elements for divorce in Florida, we still recommend consulting with an attorney should you have any concerns.