What do I have to prove to get a divorce in Florida?
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, so you only need to show that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” to obtain a divorce. You may also get a divorce in Florida if one party has been declared legally incompetent for a period more than three years.
When you tell the court that your marriage is “irretrievably broken” that means you are telling the court there is nothing the court can do (such as sending the couple to counseling) to cause the couple to reconcile.
If there are children, and a person answers a petition for dissolution of marriage denying that the marriage is irretrievably broken, then the court may order the parties to counseling and may delay the proceedings for up to three months to encourage and permit the parties an opportunity to reconcile.
How do I start the divorce process in Florida?
If your marriage is irretrievably broken and, at least, one party has lived in the state of Florida for a minimum of six months, then you can start the divorce process by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and supporting documents with the Clerk of Court.
To determine which type of divorce you may need to file, click here and complete this questionnaire now.
For guidance on completing a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in Florida, click here to watch a free video tutorial now.
What is a Contested Divorce in Florida?
In Florida, a divorce is “contested” if the parties cannot agree on how to divide their property, marital debts, or issues relating to children from the marriage. If you can agree on some issues, but not others, those issues you do not agree on are “contested” issues and must be decided by a judge at a hearing or trial. Fully contested divorces often require the assistance of legal counsel.
What is an Uncontested Divorce in Florida?
In Florida, a divorce is “uncontested” if the parties agree on all issues relating to their divorce. These issues usually include the division of property, assets, and debts, as well as issues involving children of the marriage.
It is not uncommon divorces to start out “contested” and eventually move to “uncontested.” At the beginning of the divorce process, emotions run high and parties can find it difficult to compromise and negotiate. However, as parties begin to experience the emotional and financial drain that is caused by fighting through a divorce, they also become more willing to take the uncontested approach to dissolution.
If your divorce appears to be contested at the outset, but may settle over time, you can move to the uncontested divorce process. In those cases, Just Divorce will be an excellent money saving resource for you as you walk through the process.
How do I get started handling my divorce without an attorney?
Before you decide to represent yourself in your divorce, it is important to consider your personal circumstances. With the right information, most people can effectively navigate their divorce on their own. However, if your financial situation is extremely complicated, or you don’t understand how the law applies to your situation, it is best to have a lawyer advise in those areas.
You don’t have to hire an attorney to handle your entire case. Some attorneys offer limited representation services, and you can just consult them on difficult issues, or hire them for court appearances. We offer a guide to help you do this when you purchase access to any level of the Just Divorce program.
That said, if you know – without a doubt – that you and your spouse will not come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce, or if you’ve already exhausted all of your settlement options and expect to go to trial before a Judge so that they can decide the terms of your divorce, we recommend you enlist the help of legal counsel.
Judges hold attorneys and unrepresented parties (aka Pro Se) to the same standard in the courtroom, so if you do not understand how to admit evidence, call witnesses, or manage your divorce trial, you will be severely disadvantaged in court (especially if the other party has a lawyer).
However, if you believe that you and your spouse can eventually come to an agreement (through negotiation, mediation, or multiple mediation sessions then using a DIY divorce resource like Just Divorce will save unnecessary frustration and thousands of dollars.
I just can’t afford a lawyer, what should I do?
If your income is low enough, you may qualify for Legal Aid. Contact your local bar association to see what may be available to you. You may also be able to get your spouse to pay your attorney’s fees if they make significantly more money than you do. To get your spouse to pay your attorney’s fees, you will have to ask the Judge assigned to your case to order your spouse to pay your attorney’s fee. Depending on your circumstances, this outcome is left to the Judge’s discretion, and not many attorneys will take your case knowing you cannot pay.
If you do not qualify for Legal Aid and need more help than what is offered through free self-help centers, Just Divorce is a perfect resource for you. You will also receive a free guide that will teach you how to leverage the help of an attorney when you need it most (without incurring overwhelming expense).
How does this program differ from free self-help programs provide by legal aid or at the courthouse?
With Just Divorce, you will receive detailed assistance at an extremely affordable rate.
Most government services and self-help centers will not walk you through each form offering step-by-step guidance as you go unless you pay for the help of attorney (if there is an attorney available). Even if you pay for an attorney, most cannot provide you legal advice.
Usually, self-help centers can only review your paperwork for completeness. These people are not experienced legal personnel nor are they lawyers. They are employees of the clerk’s office or volunteers. They will not tell you how and when you can use certain form. For example, they will not tell you when filing a motion for default is possible. You must know that for yourself and seek their assistance to execute the process. Just Divorce includes information on that topic (as well as many others) and guides you through the process of completing the appropriate forms.
Each Just Divorce video tutorial walks you through every form you need to file to complete your divorce line by line. Legal jargon is defined in easy to understand language, and when you reach an important issue like alimony, child support, or time-sharing, we outline the major issues you should consider in those areas; however we do not provide legal advice. To get an idea of what these video tutorials are like, click here to watch our free Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Tutorial now.
If you opt to use a free self-help service and pay for attorney assistance as you need it, the average attorney’s fee in that setting is about $1 per minute. Depending on the type of divorce you are filing, it could take anywhere from 3 – 8 hours to complete the appropriate forms.
Assuming you average 5 hours with the attorney that will cost you $300. The most expensive version of our program is $197, which includes line-by-line guidance for completing the forms, video’s explaining how to navigate the system and walk through the process, bonus materials to help you negotiate and avoid problem areas, plus email support.
Just Divorce also offer unparalleled privacy and convenience. You start and stop when you need to. You don’t have to go anywhere to get the help. As long as you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and an internet connection you can access the video tutorials to complete the forms. You don’t have to wait for an appointment. You don’t have to make time to present yourself during business hours which are normally from 7:30am to 4:30pm. And most importantly, you are not limited to the amount of time you can take to complete your forms properly.
We should also mention that most self-help centers charge you for packets of forms that are accessible for free. When you buy Just Divorce, you don’t purchase forms your purchase highly specific instruction.
How does this differ from document preparation services or divorce form software?
With document preparation services, you pay someone to complete your divorce forms for you.
Document preparation services don’t offer personalized guidance. You provide your information; they complete the forms, and you’re on your way. However, most preparers will check your forms for accuracy, completeness, and grammar as well.
Once your forms are complete, you will need to go to the courthouse self-help center for further instructions. In some cases, a document preparation service will file your forms at an additional cost.
Because you don’t get personalized guidance, it is easy to miss red flags or items of concern as it relates to the information included in your divorce paperwork. Using this kind of service makes it easy for you to give up rights unintentionally.
With Just Divorce, you complete your forms yourself following the guidance we provide. Our guidance includes defining legal jargon in everyday language you can understand as well as pointing out important legal issues you should consider. To get an idea of what these video tutorials are like, click here to watch our free Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Tutorial now.
Divorce form software or automated form preparation services are generally a complete waste of money! It’s a case of the blind leading the blind.
With divorce form software you input the data, and the software spits out a form.
Most forms created by those software programs are not compliant with court requirements and the clerk at the courthouse won’t accept them. Plus, each county differs slightly in their requirements. But don’t take our word for it . Look at these reviews :
How long will it take for me to get a divorce in Florida?
If your divorce is completely uncontested, your divorce could take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks from start to finish.
If your divorce is partially contested, meaning you have some areas of disagreement, your divorce will take as long as it takes you and your spouse to come to an agreement in those areas. Using tools like settlement conferences and mediations are great ways to resolve contested issues on a budget. Once you and your spouse come to an agreement in all areas of your divorce, you can often proceed to the final hearing within two to three weeks and get your divorce finalized. Most partially contested divorces are resolved in 9 months or less.
If your divorce is contested, your divorce could take nine months or longer to conclude. There are many factors (such as minor children, property, assets, etc.) which add to the length of time an action takes to get to a trial and final hearing. The more you and your spouse contend over the longer the process will take and the more it will cost.
Can I still get divorced in Florida if I cannot find my spouse?
If you want to get divorced in Florida, but cannot find your spouse, you must first conduct a diligent good faith search which is required by Florida law.
We explain this process in all of the Just Divorce programs except for the simplified dissolution option since both parties must be available to file for simplified divorce in Florida.
To complete a diligent good faith search you must complete a list of steps to find your spouse, and then you will be able to get a divorce. If you want to divide property or request alimony, you cannot do so using this method of filing for divorce. Your spouse must be found and served with papers in that circumstance.
What are the benefits of attending mediation in Florida?
Mediation is the single most cost-effective way to resolve your divorce in Florida. It costs far less to have a mediator work through your divorce issues than it does to pay attorneys to prepare for trial.
Mediators do not provide legal advice, and they are not for one party or the other, but they can help you, and your spouse come to a compromise and develop a reasonable settlement agreement. They can also advise you and your spouse what the court might do in a given area.
It is best to work with lawyer-mediators or Florida Supreme Court certified mediators who understand Family law. The best time to mediate your case is after you and your spouse have fully disclosed all of your financial matters to one another and can see all the pros and cons involved in your case.
What if I need alimony or child support, or a distribution of assets right now, but my spouse won’t help?
There is a procedure for going into court almost immediately after the case is filed to get an order for temporary child support, alimony, or other relief, such as time-sharing with minor children until the case can be fully heard. Also, you can apply for a distribution of some of the marital assets while the case is pending if there are extraordinary circumstances.
How can I make my divorce as affordable and stress-free as possible?
Reset your expectations.
Divorce is difficult. It’s never fair – to either person – and it requires compromise. If you can start from that place, you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and frustration. You may also be able to keep your divorce uncontested and come to a reasonable agreement with your spouse.
Whatever you and your spouse agree to will ALWAYS be more favorable and easier to live with than whatever a judge will order for you. You don’t want to leave the terms of your divorce up to a judge. Judges know nothing about your life, your children, or your future plans. Don’t put that in their hands.
Using tools like mediation, dispute resolution, and settlement conferences to resolve issues like child support, time-sharing with minor children, the division of property and debt, and alimony will save you more time and money than any other option.
Can one lawyer represent both of us or does each party have to have their own counsel?
One lawyer should never represent both parties.
You cannot expect one attorney to protect the interest of two people who have different goals. Even if you do not have an attorney, and your spouse does have an attorney, you should never rely on your spouse’s attorney to look out of your interests.
However, if you and your spouse reach an agreement, and your spouse is represented by a lawyer, but you are not, you can and should communicate with your spouse’s attorney to work out details.
Do both parties need to attend a final divorce hearing or trial?
It depends on the type of divorce you file.
If you file for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in Florida, you and your spouse MUST attend the final hearing.
If you file for a standard Dissolution of Marriage (with or without children) in Florida, and the divorce follows an uncontested divorce process, ONLY the petitioner (or the person who filed for divorce) MUST attend the final hearing.
If you file for a standard Dissolution of Marriage (with or without children) in Florida, and the divorce follows a contested divorce process, both you and your spouse MUST attend the final hearing or trial.
How can I get a divorce when the other person is not willing to sign the papers?
If your spouse is unwilling to get divorced under any circumstances, you must take your case to trial before a Judge.
However, if your spouse simply does not respond to your divorce petition, you may be able to motion the court for a default judgment. Instructions for navigating that process are included in every Just Divorce program except for the simplified dissolution option since you cannot default in simplified divorce.
What if my spouse is violent or harasses me?
Domestic violence is a serious and urgent matter. If you face danger contact the police or call Florida’s Domestic Violence hotline at 800-500-1119. If necessary, you can obtain a restraining order from the court before filing for divorce and without telling your spouse. For help in this area, you should consult an attorney or the clerk of court. Because of their nature, domestic violence cases are a priority in the court system, and you’ll get in front of a judge quickly.