Uncontested Divorce in Florida
There are two primary ways to end a marriage: contested and uncontested divorce.
- A contested divorce occurs when the spouses do not agree on at least one issue in their divorce case. So, a contested divorce typically involves multiple court hearings, and the judge is ultimately responsible for making the decisions regarding spousal support, child-related issues, property division, etc.
- An uncontested divorce is a less complicated process where the parties agree on divorce-related issues. The spouses can avoid courtroom battles by drafting a Marital Settlement Agreement. This written agreement memorializes their parenting plan, resolves financial and property issues, etc.
A divorce by mutual agreement is typically a more affordable and straightforward way to dissolve the marriage, as it requires only one brief court hearing.
Moreover, Florida Family Law also provides for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. Spouses qualified for this type of divorce can get a quick divorce, about 30 days from filing to final hearing if they have a Settlement Agreement.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
Even the simplest uncontested cases require proper divorce paperwork. Since a single mistake in divorce forms may cause delays in a dissolution of marriage cases, the spouses should approach this stage of the process responsibly.
DivorceOnline offers a beneficial solution for those who don't want to spend a lot of money on legal fees but find divorce paperwork too complicated to grapple with it independently.
Our online divorce assistance service will help you select all the required blank forms and fill them out correctly, following Florida law and local court rules.
All you have to do is go through the simple online questionnaire to provide your case details. Then, your completed documents can be ready in only two business days.
The last step is to download divorce papers online, print them, sign, and file with the Circuit Court. We'll give you step-by-step filing instructions so that you do not miss anything.
Although Divorce Online cannot provide legal advice, this tool cannot be underestimated when it comes to an amicable dissolution of marriage. DivorceOnline.com does not just sell blank forms but helps its customers complete them for just $139.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Florida
The Florida divorce process takes several mandatory steps.
To terminate a marriage in Florida, a couple must meet the residency requirements for a divorce proceeding. According to the state's Family Law, at least one of the spouses must have been a Florida resident for at least six months before filing the petition.
Any divorce process starts with filing the divorce petition. This document informs the court of the filing spouse's (called the plaintiff or petitioner) desire to end the marriage and requires the ground for divorce to be stated. Florida is a no-fault divorce state. Therefore, no fault-based grounds are provided by Family Law, and divorcing spouses do not have to prove any reason like adultery, abandonment, cruelty, etc., for the breakdown of the marriage. The valid grounds for dissolution of marriage include:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken. In other words, the couple must state that their relationship is over and there is no hope for reconciliation.
- Mental incapacity of one of the parties for a preceding period of at least three years (this ground must be proven by competent medical or psychiatric testimony).
In Florida, divorce cases, including regular divorce and simplified dissolution, are handled in the Family Court Division of the Florida court system. The divorce process is started by the plaintiff filing a petition with the Clerk of the Circuit Court's Office. In a case of simplified divorce, the spouses file for divorce jointly, as co-petitioners, so they must go to the Clerk's Office together.
Divorce Papers in Florida
The initial divorce papers required to file for an uncontested dissolution in Florida include:
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, 12.901 (forms a - b3)
- Family Law Financial Affidavit, 12.902(b, c)
- Summons: Personal Service on an Individual, 12.910(a) (not required if the other spouse has signed a waiver of service)
- Answer, Waiver, and Request for Copy of Final Judgement of Dissolution of Marriage, 12.903(a)
The rest of the required court forms may vary depending on whether the spouses have children, whether either parent has to pay child support, whether the fee waiver is needed, and other particular case circumstances.
When filing divorce documents, the plaintiff must pay a court filing fee. The fee can vary slightly from county to county, but on average, the Florida divorce filing fee is about $400.
This court fee is mandatory. However, if the plaintiff cannot afford to pay it, they may ask for a fee waiver by filing an Affidavit of Indigency and a short financial affidavit in addition to this form.
Florida has a mandatory waiting period. Even if the spouses have agreed on the terms of their divorce, the final hearing date cannot be scheduled earlier than at least 20 days after filing the petition.
In a regular Florida divorce, the plaintiff must make two copies of all the submitted divorce forms and serve a copy to the other spouse, called the defendant. Couples filing for simplified divorce skip this step.
In Florida, the service of process can be accomplished by using the sheriff or a private service processor. The plaintiff cannot serve their spouse by themselves. After the defendant is served, the server completes a return-of-service form as an acknowledgment of service.
Once the defendant gets the divorce papers, they have 20 days from the date of receipt to file a response. If a response is not filed on time, the plaintiff can request a default divorce.
An uncontested divorce in Florida typically requires a single final hearing, and only one spouse is required to appear in the court.
During this brief court hearing, the judge reviews the necessary divorce documents and the Marital Settlement Agreement and may ask a few questions. If the couple's divorce settlement is found to be fair, the judge issues a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
Getting a Divorce With Children
In a Florida divorce with minor children involved, parental responsibilities and time-sharing must be outlined within a parenting plan. This document should address all child-related issues, covering legal and physical custody (time-sharing), child support, etc.
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses usually submit a parenting plan jointly. In other cases, the court can approve an arrangement proposed by either parent or establish one based on the child's best interests. According to Florida Statute, the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the minor children include but are not limited to:
- Each parent's willingness and ability to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent and honor the visitation schedule with the non-custodial parent.
- Each parent's willingness and ability to recognize and consider the child's needs.
- Both parents' mental and physical health.
- Both parents' moral fitness.
- The child's adjustment to their home, school, and community.
- The child's wishes (if the court deems the child is mature enough to express their preference).
- Each parent's capacity to provide a consistent routine for the child and provide them with food, medical care, etc., meeting the child's material and physical needs.
- Any history of domestic violence, child abuse, abandonment, or child neglect.
- Any proof that either parent has lied to the court in any matter involving the actions above.
- Any other factors that the court considers valid to determine a specific parenting plan.
In Florida, joint custody is preferred, so the law requires all divorcing couples with minor children to complete the Parent Education Class before the judge signs a divorce decree.
As for child support, Florida follows the Income Shares Model accounting for the income of both spouses and other factors, including taxes paid and retirement contributions. The court may order either parent to pay child support, and an amount of child support is calculated individually for each case using a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet.
The following forms are provided for divorce cases involving minor children:
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit
- Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
- Notice of Social Security Number
- Parenting Plan
Filing for Divorce in Florida Without a Lawyer
The significant benefit of an uncontested divorce is that it can be arranged without an attorney.
- Florida courts allow you to represent yourself in court without legal representatives, and divorce cases are no exception. Although such a Pro Se divorce is not recommended for high-conflict cases, the spouses who've settled all their disputes amicably can consider this option.
- Filing for divorce without a lawyer does not eliminate the possibility of using alternative services to arrange a stress-free divorce. For example, couples working on their settlement agreement may resort to divorce mediation or counseling. And those who have paperwork issues can use self-guided online questionnaires to draft divorce forms correctly.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Florida
A DIY divorce can be a beneficial option for those spouses who do not want to spend a fortune and are ready to negotiate. However, to take responsibility for each step of the divorce process, they should be well aware of family law and their particular legal rights and obligations.
If you don't have the proper background or experience to sort out all this information and complete tricky legal papers on your own but still want to prepare for divorce as quickly as possible, online divorce is a solution.
DivorceOnline.com offers an efficient, fast, and cheap tool to fill out divorce forms online. Our reliable online divorce service will help you get ready-to-file divorce papers within only two business days and avoid red tape.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Since Florida has a mandatory waiting period, no divorce can be finalized before the 20th day after the suit is filed. Couples filing for a simplified dissolution can get a divorce in about 30 days. The length of regular divorce is harder to predict. For example, an uncontested divorce in Florida may take about five weeks, while contested cases are much more time-consuming. Along with that, in some cases (more often, in contested divorces), the judge may choose to delay the case for up to three months to allow a chance for reconciliation.
The cost of any divorce starts with paying a court fee, but the other expenses depend on the circumstances of a particular case. Lawyer fees usually make up the lion's share of divorce costs. Thus, the majority of contested cases cost between $5,000 and $20,000, and an average flat fee per uncontested case ranges between $1,500 and $2,400 in Florida. Having an uncontested divorce that can be arranged with a bit of legal aid or even without an attorney at all can help save money.
In theory, filing for divorce for free in Florida is available only for plaintiffs eligible to be exempt from the payment of court costs due to financial hardship. Still, filing fees are not the only expenses usually associated with divorce.
The basic legal forms that the spouses must file with the court include Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (or Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage), Family Law Financial Affidavit, Summons, Answer, Waiver, and Request for Copy of Final Judgement of Dissolution of Marriage. Various circumstances of the case may require other court forms to be filed. Florida online divorce services like DivorceOnline.com can help you determine which documents you need and complete divorce forms online without a hassle.