Questions About the Divorce Process
Q.Am I the Petitioner or the Respondent?
A.If you are the one asking for a divorce, in other words, if you are the one who wants to file for divorce, then you are the Petitioner.
If you are have been served divorce papers, in other words, if your spouse filed for divorce, then you are the Respondent.
Q.What if my spouse does not live in Florida?
A.Florida requires that at least one person has lived in the state of Florida for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce in the state. If you live in Florida, but your spouse lives out of state, you must have your spouse served inside the state of Florida for the court to have personal jurisdiction over your spouse in your divorce case.
For more information on the requirement of personal jurisdiction read this article.
Q.How much are the filing fees for divorce?
A.To file for divorce in most counties, you can expect to pay about $420, however each county sets their own rates. Please click here to find the filing fee links for each county where you will find the current filing fee in your county.
Q.I need an interpreter for the hearing – what should I do?
A.If you need a foreign language interpreter to fully participate in your hearing, contact your county courthouse about translation services. If your county does not offer interpreters, it is your responsibility to bring a qualified interpreter.
If you need a sign language interpreter for your hearing, please contact the ADA Coordinator at your courthouse.
Click here to locate ADA contact information.
Q.Are divorce proceedings public?
A.Divorce proceedings are public proceedings, and the files are available at the courthouse for public review. Under certain limited circumstances, portions of the file may be sealed by order of the court.
Q.My spouse filed for divorce. I responded and it's been several weeks. What should I do?
A.The petitioner is responsible to move their case to a final status. If you want to move the case forward, you may consider filing a counter-petition. You should consult with an attorney if you are confused about this.
Q.When does the Clerk issue a default?
A.Proof of service must be filed and the time period for the respondent to
answer must be completed before the Clerk can issue a default. If the respondent files an answer, no default will be issued.
Q.What happens if I or my spouse are not able to attend a hearing?
A.Failure to appear at the hearing by either or both of the parties may result in dismissal of the case. If you cannot appear, you must tell the court, in writing, why you are not able to appear and ask permission to (1) not show up and (2) ask for the date to be moved to a different day and time. (File a notice of unavailability)
Q.Who has to go to the final hearing?
A.If you filed for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, both the Wife and Husband must attend final hearing together.
In uncontested divorces, the Petitioner is required to attend the final hearing. The divorce will not be granted if the Petitioner does not attend. The Respondent’s attendance depends if the answer and waiver has been signed, or a settlement agreement has been reached. When the Respondent has executed and filed an answer and waiver, the Respondent is not required to attend the final hearing.
The Respondent should be present if a settlement could not be reached.
Q.How is property divided in Florida?
A.As a general rule, property acquired during the course of the marriage is divided 50/50 regardless of whose name it’s in. Although the Courts can in an extraordinary case change the percentages. Note that a spouse could be entitled to 1/2 the value of a business including goodwill, equipment and accounts receivable etc. (Although if the business would no longer generate income if the spouse who works it walks away, then goodwill may not be a factor.)
Q.What assets are subject to the 50/50 split?
A.Property acquired during the course of the marriage by one or both parties is basically subject to a 50/50 split unless there are extraordinary circumstances which require different percentages. There is usually going to be a 50/50 split even though for example one spouse worked ten hours a week while the other spouse worked forty. The acquired property will still be considered a marital asset. In general the Court is not going to start looking into how hard each party worked during the marriage to contribute, although in extreme cases the Court can consider the level of contribution.
Q.If I have been separated for more than 3 years, do I still need a Marital Settlement Agreement?
A.If you want to proceed with a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage or an Uncontested Divorce, you MUST have a Marital Settlement Agreement. Otherwise, you must proceed with a Contested Divorce.
Q.After being served with papers, do I have to serve my Answer on the other party by the Sheriff?
A.No. You may mail a copy of your Answer to the other party. Your original Answer (which is filed with the Clerk) should contain a Certificate of Mailing, showing the day that you mailed the Answer to the other party. Remember to keep a copy of your Answer for yourself.
Q.Do I still need to attend the final hearing if my spouse and I went to mediation and signed an agreement that resolves all of our issues?
A.If you are the Petitioner, yes. The Petitioner must always attend the final hearing or trial.
Q.How do I schedule a mediation with a mediator or county court mediation program?
A.Most counties offer mediation services, however you and your spouse can choose to hire a private meditator instead.
To qualify for county mediation programs, both parties usually must first submit a completed Financial Affidavit. Depending on the combined gross income of you and your spouse the clerk may refer you to a specific mediation program. Once your request for mediation has been processed, that mediation office will provide you with written notification of the date, time, and location of the mediation.
If you and your spouse decide to hire a private mediator, you may research a mediator of your choice, contact them directly and proceed as they require to retain their services.
Q.I don’t have an attorney but the other party does – how do I set a hearing?
A.If you don’t have an attorney, you need to contact the judge or magistrate’s office assigned to your case and request available hearing dates from the judicial assistant. You will then need to contact the attorney’s office to coordinate the date with the attorney. Once a date has been agreed upon, you will need to call the judicial assistant again to reserve the hearing date. You will then need to complete a Notice of Hearing and provide it to the clerk’s office, attorney’s office, and judicial assistant.
Click here to learn how to file and complete a notice of hearing form.
Q.I need to speak to the judge or magistrate about my case – how do I contact their office?
A.Judges and magistrates are not permitted to speak to parties about their case outside of the courtroom. If you have an issue you need addressed by the court, you must file a proper motion or request and schedule a hearing to have the Judge hear your issue.
Q.Where do I file my completed forms?
A.All forms should be filed at the clerk’s office in the county of your case and a copy of the forms should be provided to the other party according to Florida Law and Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.
For detailed instructions on filing your divorce, click here to watch the instructional video tutorial.
Q.When is my final hearing?
A.If you have filed for simplified dissolution of marriage with your spouse, the clerk of court will provide you with a hearing date when you go with your spouse to file your divorce documents. Hearing dates can be a few as two to four weeks out or more depending on the caseload in your county.
If you have filed for a standard type of divorce, most cases are reviewed by clerks or case managers in the self-help department upon filing your documents. If the case is ready for a hearing, it is set on the first available docket and parties are notified by mail. If you still have issues in dispute, you will need to schedule final hearing after you and your spouse have come to a full and complete agreement on all issues.
For instructions on how to schedule final hearing click here to watch the video tutorial.
Q.When can I expect my final paperwork to arrive?
A.If you appeared at the final hearing you most likely will get your paperwork on that day. However, if you were not at the final hearing a copy will be mailed to you, a copy in the mail can take 10 – 14 days.
Q.When is my divorce final?
A.Your divorce is final at the time the Judge signs the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
Q.What do I do if my spouse will not sign a Marital Settlement Agreement?
A.If your spouse will not sign a Marital Settlement Agreement, you must proceed with a Contested Divorce.
Q.What should I bring to court and what am I supposed to do?
A.– Dress appropriately for court
– Be on time for your hearing
– Both parties should attend scheduled hearings
– Remain calm
– Speak directly to the judge or the magistrate
– Listen to the judge or the magistrate and do not interrupt someone when he/she is speaking – each party will have time to speak
– The court can only hear matters that have been properly filed and are scheduled for hearing, so stay focused on the issues that are in the pleading and scheduled for that hearing
– Do not bring your children to court with you unless you have been ordered by the judge to have the children present. If you bring your children you will need to have someone who can supervise them outside of the courtroom while your case is being heard.
– Bring your valid Florida Drivers License, Florida Voter’s Registration Card, or valid Florida Identification Card with you
– Bring any documents you think may be necessary for your case depending on the issues that have been identified in the petition or motion (such as receipts, bills, proof of real estate, copies of checks, etc. – see Chapter 90 “Evidence Code”Florida Statutes for more information)
– Know what you want before the hearing and be able to explain to the judge or magistrate why it is you want it
– Ask questions if you do not understand what is going on – you should leave the hearing knowing what happened
Q.WHAT IS ADA?
A.The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was enacted to ensure that all qualified individuals with disabilities enjoy the same opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.
The ADA directly affects state courts as providers of public programs and services. Under the act, an individual with a “disability” is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Examples of physical impairments include: speech and hearing impairments, visual impairments, epilepsy, heart disease, HIV infections/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and mobility impairments. Examples of mental impairments include: learning disabilities and psychological disorders.
The ADA is divided into five sections. Title I of the act prohibits unreasonable discrimination against qualified individuals based on a disability in all employment activities. Under Title II of the Act, no qualified individual with a disability shall be unreasonably discriminated against, or excluded from participation in or benefits of the services, programs, or activities of state and local government, including the judicial branch. Title III prohibits discrimination by public accommodations, that is, a private entity that owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodations. Such a place is defined as, among other things, services by doctors, lawyers, accountants and other professionals. Title IV relates to telecommunications and Title V contains miscellaneous provisions.
If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in a proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, the provision of certain assistance.
Contact the ADA Coordinator for your local county court at least 7 days before your scheduled court appearance, or immediately upon receiving your notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than 7 days; if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 711.
Questions About How to Use This Website
Q.How do I download the divorce forms I need?
You can find all of the forms you need to complete for your divorce under each video tutorial and on the Your Forms tab in the navigation to the left of the website’s logo.
Q.How do I get back to the start page?
A.You can access all of the introductory videos from any place on the site by clicking on the website’s logo in the upper left hand corner.
To contact us please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will receive a response within 24 hours.