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Florida Divorce 101

Looking at the almost daily stories about divorce that appear in the news, it seems as if society sees this event as an everyday process that is not worth a lot of conversation. This nonchalant attitude is especially apparent in the large of number of reports about which group is most likely end their marriage and the top signs a relationship is heading for divorce. In reality, divorce is a painful process that few enter without a large amount of soul searching and numerous attempts to save the marriage, but once the decision is made, having some key bits of information can make the situation a little easier. Knowing this basic information about divorce procedure is likely to make the process feel a little less overwhelming and scary, which should provide some much needed emotional relief to anyone facing divorce. Consequently, an overview of how to initiate a divorce, the types of information needed to file for divorce, and the role of the court will be discussed below.

Starting Divorce Proceedings

All dissolutions of marriage in Florida start with a petition for dissolution. In order for a couple to be permitted access to Florida courts for divorce, at least one party must be a resident of the state for a minimum of six months and intend to remain. The petition is filed with the circuit court in the county where the couple last lived together.  This legal document provides the court with information it needs to determine if there is authority for a  Florida judge to grant a divorce and requires the party filing the petition to include certain information related to child custody, child support, alimony, and property distribution, as applicable, so the court knows what the petitioner is seeking.

Florida is a no-fault divorce state, and all that the petitioner needs to do to get divorced is claim the marriage is irretrievably broken. This means it is unnecessary to prove that one party caused the failure of the marriage, but it also allows one party to ask for a divorce even if the other does not desire that result. The length of time it takes to obtain a divorce depends on the complexity of each individual case, but the law requires a minimum of 60 days to pass between the filing of the divorce petition and the issuance of the court order dissolving the marriage.  However, this can be waived by the parties.

Necessary Information

Before a divorce attorney can begin drafting a petition, he/she will need to collect information related to minor children, property holdings, and support. Specifically, if the couple shares minor children, identifying information for each child and any agreements the parents have made about custody and parenting time should be disclosed. Further, each party must file a financial affidavit with the court no later than 45 days after the petition for divorce is filed. This affidavit will provide the court with information that will help the judge determine child support payments, property division, and alimony, if granted. Note that the law requires the information provided in this form be disclosed to the other spouse.

How the Court Is Involved

The role of the court in divorce cases is, first and foremost, to issue a court order legally terminating a marriage. Beyond this purpose, the court oversees and approves any agreements the parties make related to the divorce. The court will take a more direct role and make decisions on issues like support and child custody, but since many couples work out the terms of divorce in mediation, it is not necessary for the court to intervene. Thus, most divorcing spouses only appear in court once to attend the case management conference where the judge learns about the status of the case and makes any decisions needed to move the case forward.  Or the case management conference can be used as a final hearing if the parties are in agreement and have completed all that is necessary to finalize their case.

Talk to a Divorce Attorney

It can be tempting to file for divorce on your own, but there are a lot of procedural rules and statutory laws that affect how quickly the case progresses and the ultimate outcome. An experienced divorce lawyer is best equipped to handle these legalities, and help you avoid the frustration of not knowing or understanding why certain forms have to be filed and the particulars of local court rules. The Tampa law firm All Family Law Group, P.A. can offer you representation in all divorce matters and is committed to helping you achieve the best possible solution. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay at 813-816-2232 for a consultation at no charge or email us.

By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+

All Family Law Group, P.A.
The law firm of All Family Law Group (Lynette Silon-Laguna, P.A.) provides legal services to the cities of Tampa, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview, Lakeland, Valrico, Gibsonton, Lithia, Mango, Palm River, Plant City, Seffner, Sun City Center, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, Temple Terrace, Carrollwood, Thonotosassa, Lutz, FishHawk, MacDill Air Force Base, and all of Hillsborough, Pinellas & Polk Counties.

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