What is the procedure to get a dissolution of marriage (divorce) in Florida?
Usually, one party files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage stating that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”; in other words it cannot be put back together through marriage counseling or any other means. There is no requirement that either party be at “fault” for the failure of the marriage and it is usually irrelevant if either party is actually at fault. “Fault” may be relevant only if there is an allegation that marital assets have been dissipated by the spouse at fault (i.e., that they spent a substantial amount of marital money on a new relationship during the marriage). Also, one party to the marriage must be a Florida resident for the six month period immediately preceding the filing of the petition for divorce.
Should I file first? Does it matter who files first?
It does not matter who files first and there is no advantage or disadvantage to filing first. The party that files first does have to pay the filing fee and is assured that the matter is actually moving forward and not waiting on the other party to file. Sometimes the parties agree who will file if they are working together in a collaborative divorce.
How long does a divorce take in Florida?
How long the divorce case will take varies. It depends first, on whether it is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce is when both parties agree on all issues (e.g., the Parenting Plan which outlines the timesharing with the minor children, equitable distribution of property and debts, alimony, child support, and the costs of filing, etc). An uncontested divorce can take as little as four to five weeks if all of the necessary paperwork is completed and the court’s calendar has time for the final hearing. If the matter is contested, that is the parties disagree on one or more issues which must be decided by the Court, then the case can take about 4-6 months or more to be heard. Many cases are resolved prior to a trial through compromise by both parties or through the mediation process. The goal of the court system is that it take no longer than 6 months for the average case.
Can one lawyer represent both parties if we agree, or does each party need to have a lawyer?
It is not proper or ethical for one lawyer to represent both parties in a dissolution of marriage. Each party will have different goals, no matter how slight, and each party will need different and potentially conflicting advice. Do not rely on your spouse’s attorney, they will not protect your interests. That lawyer is paid to advocate for your soon-to-be former spouse. We always recommend having an attorney for such an important issue
What if my spouse is violent?
If you are ever in fear of imminent harm, call the police immediately. There is a procedure to file a Petition for Injunction Against Domestic Violence (often referred to as a restraining order). If the petition contains sufficient information, the court may enter a temporary injunction without having a hearing, and then schedule a hearing within 10 days to hear evidence on the need for the injunction.
What if my spouse is committing adultery?
In general, the relevance of adultery is where you can show that they have spent marital funds (which you in general are entitled to half of) on the third party.
Can I get temporary alimony or child support before the final hearing?
Yes, there are procedures to ask the court to give you temporary alimony or child support before the final hearing or for the exclusive use of the marital home if the facts warrant such an order by the court.
Are divorce cases heard by a judge or jury?
Can I use my maiden name after the divorce?
You need to put in the petition for dissolution of marriage that you wish to have your maiden name restored. The Court can order the name change provided you are not changing your name to avoid creditors.
For more information, please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Rooney & Rooney, P.A.