Dissolution of marriage refers to the process a married couple must goes through when they want to permanently end their marriage. Florida is a no-fault divorce state that is when no blame or fault for the breakup is placed on either spouse. Irreconcilable differences is commonly a used cause in no-fault divorces which means the couple simply do not get along any more.

  • Contested divorces are those in which couples may not agree on one or more issues. Uncontested divorces can become contested if the parties disagree on even a small number of items. Even in the case of an uncontested divorce, it is wise to seek the counsel of a divorce attorney to advise you. Legal representation will ensure that you and your spouse have considered every option and that your rights are protected.

Alimony: Alimony or maintenance may be awarded during a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Florida has different types of alimony and to determine whether to award alimony or maintenance, the court will first make a determination as to whether either party has an actual need for alimony or maintenance and whether either party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance. If the court finds that a party has a need for alimony or maintenance and that the other party has the ability to pay alimony or maintenance, then in determining the proper type and amount of alimony or maintenance, the court shall consider all relevant factors, such as; the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the age and the physical and emotional condition of each party, the financial resources of each party, and many other relevant factors.

Equitable Distribution: the law in Florida is equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities. The court will always begin on the premise that distribution should be equal, unequal distribution must be justified using a list of statutory factors such as; the contribution to the marriage by each spouse, including contributions to the care and education of the children, the economic circumstances of the parties, the duration of the marriage and many other factors.

The Judy-Ann Smith law Firm, P.A. can help if you are going through this difficult time, call for a consultation today.

What to expect in the divorce process in Florida:
Petition for dissolution of marriage
Divorce is also known as dissolution of marriage in Florida. The divorce proceeding begins when either spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage. The Florida residency requirement for filing a dissolution of marriage petition is six months. Filing a divorce petition, is how a spouse informs the court that they are wanting a divorce and would like the court to grant them specific financial and property settlements. As well as, any parental responsibilities, time sharing, and child support, if applicable.

Service
The spouse not filing the petition must be notified about the divorce and this is called service. Service usually must be done by personal service, which simply means the divorce petition is hand-delivered to the non-filing spouse either by the sheriff or a certified process server. When the non- filing spouse has been served with the divorce papers, by Florida law they must file an answer within 20 days of being served and receiving the divorce papers. If the spouse being served does not respond, then they place themselves at risk of the court deciding on the divorce without hearing from them.

Mandatory disclosures
Florida law requires mandatory disclosure, which requires each party in a family law case provide certain documentation to the other party so that each will be fully informed about the financial circumstances of the other party. This rule requires that each spouse truthfully fill out a financial affidavit form, which discloses all of their assets, income, expenses and liabilities. The financial affidavit form must be promptly filed with the court.

Discovery
Discovery is the exchange of evidence between the parties. This may be accomplished by asking the other party to (a) produce specific documents or (b) provide written answers to questions or (c) provide oral recorded testimony, called a deposition.

Mediation
Mediation is a procedure to assist the parties in working out an arrangement for reaching an agreement. This procedure can help prevent a prolonged divorce process or going to trial.

The court will require the parties to submit to mediation when there is no agreement. Mediation is a confidential meeting at which both parties, their attorneys and the mediator are present in the attempt to facilitate a settlement agreement. Issues that are not agreed upon, are considered contested issues, which could include anything from spousal support, child support, child custody, property distribution etc. If during mediation the parties cannot reach an agreement, then at this point the case would continue on to trial. However, if the parties can come to an agreement on the issues then, a marital settlement agreement can be drawn up, both sides would sign it and then a final hearing is set for the judge to review and sign off on the agreement.

Reaching an agreement empowers both parties to create terms with which they are more likely to comply rather than leaving decisions up to a judge.

Trial
If the case continues on to trial, both sides are allowed to present evidence and testimony in front of the judge and have the judge decide on the issues in which an agreement could not be reached.