Florida couples who decide to divorce have two options for legally ending their marriage. Some couples qualify for a simplified dissolution, while others must file for regular dissolution of marriage.
Review the differences between these divorce paths under Florida law.
A couple can qualify for this streamlined divorce process if they agree to forego spousal support, agree on property and debt division, and have no minor or unborn children together. Simplified dissolution does not take as long as regular dissolution and does not require financial disclosure beyond financial affidavits. The couple submits their agreement and the judge will approve it with amendments if necessary. The parties appear in court together. In the event that one party fails to appear without a valid reason, the proceedings may need to be begun again and both parties will need to appear or one party may proceed with a regular dissolution.
Couples that do not meet Florida’s criteria for simplified dissolution must file a petition for regular dissolution. The spouse who files must provide detailed information about his or her desired child custody and property division arrangements. The other spouse has 20 days to submit his or her own preferences in a response petition. Both spouses must submit full financial disclosure to the court within 45 days.
During the regular dissolution process, the judge will refer the couple to mediation. If the mediation process does not succeed, they must move forward with a hearing. In this case, the judge will create a legally binding divorce order based on Florida law. For example, the state requires the equitable distribution of property and shared parental responsibility as long as this arrangement serves the child’s best interests. The judge will also order child support and in some cases, spousal support depending on the family’s financial situation.