In Florida, divorce is referred to as “dissolution of marriage”. Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that fault grounds, such as adultery, are not required to obtain a divorce. A spouse need only allege in a Petition for Dissolution that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Additionally, at least one party must have been a Florida resident for six months prior to the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
Typically, there are two main ways to approach dissolution of marriage cases: uncontested and contested. An uncontested divorce is preferable, as it costs less money, usually is not as stressful and involves fewer court appearances, and moves more quickly to conclusion. Uncontested divorces occur when both spouses are able to agree on all the terms of their divorce: time-sharing of the children (custody), child support, the amount and duration of alimony, and division of their assets and debts. This usually takes some time to come to an agreeable compromise. If both parties agree, a Marital Settlement Agreement (see separate heading) is signed by both parties, which is then presented to the Court for ratification. Generally, only a five or ten minute hearing is required to finalize the divorce in this situation.
A contested divorce, on the other hand, occurs when the parties cannot agree on any or all issues, whether it be how much time each parent will get with their children, how much alimony should be paid, how property should be distributed, who is responsible for which debts, or any other potential issues depending on the complexity of the parties’ marriage and lifestyle. If the parties cannot agree, one party (the Petitioner) files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and the other party (the Respondent) is served. If you get served with a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, it is important to take action quickly, as you must file your Answer within 20 days. It is possible for a dissolution of marriage or divorce to begin contested and eventually become uncontested if the parties are able to resolve their issues during the pendency of the case.
The divorce attorneys at The Women’s Law Group are experienced in both uncontested and contested divorces, and we understand the many questions you may be having at this time. Should you seek an explanation of the issues involved, or if you have questions, please contact one of our divorce lawyers and we will schedule a consultation to address your concerns. We understand that going through a divorce or other family law matter can be an extremely sensitive and difficult time, and our first priority is to answer your questions, carefully explain the law to you as it relates to your unique situation, and to formulate a plan of action to best represent your interests and protect your rights.