What is Simplified Dissolution in Florida?
For many years the courts used the term “divorce” to signify the legal ending of a marriage. In those days, there needed to be reasons a marriage could be terminated, such as adultery, misconduct, and emotional or physical abuse. A reason for divorce had to be proven before a court would end a marriage. As time has gone on, however, there have been radical changes in how a marriage can be legally terminated. In many states, including Florida, the term “divorce” has been replaced by the term “dissolution of marriage.” In many states, including Florida, there need be no reason to seek to end a divorce other than the wish to do so. Each state has its own set of rules and guidelines for terminating a marriage, which can be accessed online on the couple’s state of residents’ Family Law Statutes. This blog will focus on the state of Florida.
Another change that has taken place in the terminology of ending a marriage in Florida is the use of the words “simplified dissolution” rather than “uncontested divorce.” Essentially, these terms mean the same thing as the fact the legal ending of a marriage is uncontested makes the process less complicated and thus simplified. The entire process can be handled without a legal professional (though it is wise to seek the counsel of a Family Law attorney) and often takes only a few weeks to complete. There are, however, stipulations that are required before a couple can file for a simplified dissolution in Florida:
- You and/or your spouse must have lived in Florida for at least six months.
- There can be no issues a court would need to decide
- There can be no real property (real estate) to be divided
- There can be no minor or dependent children born from the union or from an adoption before marriage, during the marriage, or after separation.
- Neither party can be pregnant
- Both parties must agree, without coercion, that the marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be saved. No reason is necessary, just agreement.
- There will be no rights for a trial or appeal.
- Neither party wants support from the other party. In other words, no alimony will be forthcoming.
- Both parties agree to limit their knowledge of each other’s finances to the financial affidavit information each party will fill out and submit to the court.
- Marital assets (pensions are considered property) and liabilities (those obtained during the marriage) will be divided as the parties both agree. However, if a spouse does not follow through with the agreed division of assets, you accept you will lose those assets.
- Both parties must go into the clerk’s office of their county of residence—though not necessarily together—to sign the petition.
- Both parties must go at the same time to the final hearing.
Once you have determined you qualify to obtain a simplified dissolution, you will proceed as follows:
- Go to the Clerk of Court’s office and ask for information and forms for a simplified dissolution. You can also download information and forms.
- Fill out the forms and make an appointment to meet with the Clerk of Court. One party must prove they have been a resident of Florida for at least six months. A driver’s license or sworn statement from a witness is used as proof.
- When all forms have been completed and turned in and a fee paid, you can file the petition for simplified dissolution. Fees change, but you can expect to pay at least $400. People qualifying as indigent may qualify for a payment plan.
- A court date will be set where both parties are present together. The judge will ask questions per your petition and ask each party if they believe the marriage is irretrievably broken. At this time, a name can be changed to what it was before marriage.
- When the testimony is complete, the judge will give an opinion and, in most cases, grant the dissolution.
- In about a week, each party will receive a certified copy of their dissolution of marriage.
Should you have further questions regarding a simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida, Family Law Attorney Grant Gisondo offers a free, initial, in-office consultation. His office is in Palm Beach Gardens. He serves Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, and Hillsborough Counties in Florida and New York and Washington DC. His office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and for new clients on Saturdays from 8:30 AM to 1:00 PM. The number to call for an appointment is (561) 530-4568.