Navigating the waters of divorce can be emotionally draining and complex. Fortunately, Florida offers an option for those who wish to part ways without the contentious courtroom battles: an uncontested divorce. In this blog, we’ll delve into what an uncontested divorce entails in Florida, its process, and the timeframe in which it can be completed.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce, known as a “simplified dissolution of marriage” in Florida, occurs when both spouses agree on all issues pertaining to the divorce. This includes matters like property division, debt allocation, child custody, and spousal support. Such a consensus means the couple doesn’t need the court to divide assets or make decisions about spousal or child support.
Eligibility for Uncontested Divorce in Florida:
Before proceeding, ensure you meet the following criteria:
- Both parties agree the marriage is irretrievably broken.
- Either party has been a Florida resident for at least six months.
- Neither party is seeking alimony.
- The couple has no minor children together, and the wife isn’t pregnant.
- Both parties have agreed on the division of assets and liabilities.
- Both spouses are willing to attend the final hearing.
- Both parties have read and understand the financial affidavits or waive their rights to financial affidavits.
The Process for Uncontested Divorce in Florida:
- Preparation of Documents: The first step is to prepare the necessary documents, including the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, Marital Settlement Agreement, and Financial Affidavits (or waiver).
- Filing: Once the documents are prepared, they must be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where either spouse resides. There is a filing fee, but if the couple cannot afford it, they can apply for a fee waiver.
- Financial Affidavits: Both parties must disclose their financial situation, including assets, debts, income, and monthly expenses. However, if both parties waive this right, they won’t need to provide it.
- Attend Parenting Course (if applicable): If the couple has minor children, they must attend a parenting course and present the certificate of completion to the court before the divorce is finalized.
- Final Hearing: Both parties must attend the final hearing. The judge will review your documents, ask a few questions, and if everything is in order, will grant the divorce.
- Final Judgment: Once the judge signs the Final Judgment of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, the divorce becomes official.
How Fast Can It Be Completed?
The speed of an uncontested divorce in Florida largely depends on the couple’s preparedness and the court’s schedule. If both parties have all their documentation in order and can quickly schedule a final hearing, the process can be completed in as little as 4-6 weeks. However, if there are minor delays or the court docket is full, it might take a few months.
Remember, while the uncontested divorce process in Florida is more streamlined than a contested one, it’s always a good idea to consult with a divorce attorney near you, even if briefly. An attorney can ensure all documents are correctly prepared and that both parties understand their rights and obligations.
An uncontested divorce in Florida offers couples a more straightforward, often faster, and less contentious route to end their marriage. By understanding the eligibility criteria and following the outlined steps, couples can navigate this process with ease and start a new chapter in their lives. Always remember that each divorce case is unique, and while the process might seem straightforward, seeking legal counsel ensures your interests are adequately protected.