Filling Out the FormsYour first step is to fill out a form called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. On the form, the partner filling out the form is the petitioner, and the other partner is the respondent. Some states request that you have a reason for filing for divorce. These are called “at fault” states. Florida is not an “at fault” state: Your desire to file for divorce is enough to start the process. On this form, you’ll list any assets, liabilities or responsibilities that will need to be divided up, including property, investments, liquid assets, debts, child custody and so forth. Within 45 days of filing, you’ll need to provide further information about your financial information to the court.
Filing and Serving the FormsIf you don’t file the forms properly, there may be a delay in processing them, or they may not be filed at all. Look up your circuit court and file the forms there. Some courts may request a filing fee for this service. You’ll also need to serve your partner with the forms. If your partner agrees, you can serve the forms personally or via a lawyer. Otherwise, you may need to get a sheriff or private process server to do this for you.
The Divorce HearingOnce you file for divorce, the court will set a date for a hearing. The court will usually grant the divorce if both parties agree that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” or one party is mentally incapacitated. If one party refuses to agree the marriage is irretrievably broken, or if there is at least one minor child, the court may still choose to dissolve the marriage. However, they may also deny the request and refer the couple to marriage counseling. If the marriage is dissolved, the court will rule on the distribution of the couple’s assets and liabilities as well as child custody and child support. This is perhaps the most difficult part of the proceedings, and it determines a great deal about your financial and personal future. It’s best for you to have a good lawyer to advocate for you through the divorce process. Laura Spencer Coleman is a compassionate, experienced lawyer who will help you make your case. Contact her today to make sure you get what you need out of your divorce hearing.