When a married couple from the Sunshine State decides they cannot stay together, the path they are taking will influence the rest of their lives and, if they have a family, their children’s lives too. For residents of Lakeland and surrounding areas, understanding the process of separation and divorce does not make it feel any better, but it does provide a framework of what to expect moving forward.
Every state has different requirements for divorce, so it is important to understand how these laws direct a judge’s ruling as well as the forms, deadlines and other necessary steps that are part of the process. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that grounds for divorce are not necessary, only that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
What types of divorce are there in Florida?
In Florida, divorce is called dissolution of marriage. There are several options available, depending on the unique dynamic of the marriage:
- In a simplified dissolution, there must be no minor children, the wife cannot be pregnant at the time of filing, there will be no alimony for either party and the spouses draw up a settlement agreement. After the hearing, the divorce is final.
- In an uncontested divorce, the couple may come to an agreement on their own that includes the division of assets and debt, alimony, and child support, as well as custody and a parenting plan. The filing spouse attends the final hearing, and the judge will sign the final judgement for the settlement agreement
- In a contested divorce, one party files for dissolution of marriage while the other party is served papers, to which they must respond within 20 days. As they are unable to agree on terms of the divorce from the start, the case proceeds through the court system. All contested cases must go through mediation to attempt to get the two sides together on some matters. If mediation does not resolve the issues, the case will go before a judge who will determine all outcomes of the divorce.
Finding the type of divorce that is right for your situation often depends on the relationship you have with your spouse, the age of your children, the financial circumstances of the couple and many other factors.
Even if the spouses are on good terms, it is important to realize that there are financial and custodial aspects of divorce that you may overlook that could negatively affect post-divorce finances or access to your children. Having an attorney to go over the details of the agreement is crucial to ensure your parental rights as well as your financial security.