Florida recognizes three types of divorce. Making the right choice is important.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage:
This is a unique form of divorce that few people qualify for. If you have no minor children from the marriage, and you and your spouse agree on all aspects of your divorce, you may qualify for simplified dissolution of marriage. Some people chose to do their divorce themselves, without the assistance of an attorney. The downside to this one (vs an uncontested divorce) is that both parties need to attend the final hearing in front of the judge.
You can file a simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida if all of the following are true:
- Your marriage cannot be saved.
- There is/are no minor or dependent child(ren) born during the marriage, and the wife is not currently pregnant.
- You and your spouse have worked out how the two of you will divide the things that you both own (your assets) and who will pay what part of the money you both owe (your liabilities), and you are both satisfied with this division.
- Neither party is seeking support (alimony) from each other.
- You are willing to give up your right to trial and appeal.
- Both parties are willing to sign the petition (not necessarily together).
- Both you and your spouse are willing to go to the final hearing (at the same time).
Similarly, an uncontested divorce means that both you and your spouse agree on everything. This includes, for example, child support, custody, visitation, division of marital assets and liabilities, and alimony. There are no pending issues. All marital assets and liabilities, if any, have been divided.
Should I file my own divorce?
Hiring an attorney can be costly, and you may be thinking if you truly need them. It is possible to still do your own divorce, but only advisable in limited circumstances. An attorney will not only defend you, but they will also help you understand your rights.
You may consider filing for yourself if you meet the following criteria:
- There is no domestic violence involved;
- There is no one requesting an award of alimony; or both spouses agree on the amount of alimony and have entered a written agreement regarding the terms;
- There is no retirement money or pensions to divide.
- There are no substantial marital or debt assets to divide.
- There are no children involved; or if there are children involved, both spouses agree to a timesharing schedule (custody) and child support.
If you and your spouse have assets and liabilities, you may still possibly do your own divorce; but ONLY IF you agree to how you will divide the assets and liabilities. This agreement must be put in writing, signed by both spouses in the presence of two witnesses and a notary.
Note: Check the official website of your state court for resources for “pro se” (on your own) litigants. Be mindful that there are numerous deadlines can affect your rights if missed.
Like Simplified divorces, uncontested divorces usually take a short amount of time to be finalized.
In contrast, a contested divorce is one where the parties cannot agree on terms. This includes issues such as how the parties will divide their assets and liabilities; or whether one spouse will be receiving alimony.
If your divorce is contested, then that the court will decide the issues that are pending such as asset division, time-sharing, parental responsibility, division of debts and property, the award of alimony and child support.
Contested divorces ultimately end the marriage but are often risky because the judge decides on the terms of the divorce. Contested divorces usually take longer than uncontested divorces, lasting anywhere between three months to over a year to be resolved.
If you have questions about what type of divorce is right for you, it’s best to ask a qualified family attorney. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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