Not all couples need to hire an attorney to divorce in Orlando, Florida. You can prepare and file the divorce papers yourself. However, there are situations where having legal counsel can protect your best interests.
Deciding whether you need a divorce lawyer can be challenging. If you and your spouse agree that you want to divorce, know how you want to divide your assets and agree on all other divorce terms, you might not need a divorce attorney.
However, suppose you and your spouse disagree about child custody, spousal support, child support, or property division. In that case, you might be better off seeking legal advice from a Florida divorce lawyer.
Can You Obtain a Florida Simplified Dissolution of Marriage?
A simplified dissolution of marriage could be the answer you are searching for if you want to get a divorce without a lawyer in Orlando. The qualifications for a simplified dissolution of marriage are:
- One or both spouses have been residents in Florida for the past six months or longer.
- Both spouses acknowledge their marriage cannot be saved.
- The spouses are not parents of minor or dependent children they had together.
- The wife did not give birth to any minor or dependent children during the marriage and is not currently pregnant.
- Both spouses agree on how to divide their property and who will pay the debts they owe together.
- Neither spouse intends to seek spousal support.
- Both spouses agree to waive their right to a trial and appeal.
- Both spouses agree to go to the clerk’s office to sign the petition, either together or separately.
- Both spouses agree to appear at a final hearing at the same time.
Because you are filing for divorce without a lawyer, you are responsible for completing all paperwork and filing it with the court. You must also provide proof of residency, pay the filing fees, and appear in court for the hearing. If you do everything correctly, you should be able to obtain a divorce without hiring a divorce attorney.
Filing a Regular Petition for Divorce Without a Lawyer in Orlando, FL
If you do not qualify for a simplified dissolution of marriage, you must file a regular divorce petition. Florida has two grounds for divorce. You can divorce your spouse if they are mentally incapacitated for at least three years before you file for a divorce.
The more commonly used ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Generally, a marriage is irretrievably broken when the parties have irreconcilable differences. In simple terms, you do not believe your marriage can be saved because you and your spouse have differences you cannot work out.
A divorce may be uncontested or contested. An uncontested divorce means the spouses agree to all the divorce terms and ask the court to approve their agreement when it grants the petition.
A contested divorce involves disputes about one or more issues related to the divorce. For example, a spouse might seek sole custody, and the other spouse believes they should have joint custody. The spouses could disagree about how to divide their property or whether the court should order alimony payments.
It is important to remember that if you and your spouse disagree about the terms of your divorce, you must argue your case in front of a judge. Even though you do not hire a lawyer, your spouse might hire an Orlando divorce attorney. Therefore, if you file divorce papers without a lawyer, you could be at a distinct disadvantage if your spouse decides to hire an attorney.
What Happens After You File Divorce Papers Without a Lawyer in Orlando?
When you represent yourself in a divorce action, you are responsible for completing the paperwork and following Florida divorce laws. The court cannot give you legal advice. You are also responsible for serving the divorce papers on your spouse.
You may pay a process server or sheriff’s officer to serve the divorce papers. However, you must follow the rules for the service of process. If not, your divorce could be delayed, or the court could dismiss the case.
If you and your spouse agree on a settlement, your spouse can file a response without a lawyer. Then, you and your spouse can file a Martial Settlement Agreement for the court to approve.
All matters regarding children are decided by the judge based on the best interests of the child. Therefore, your agreement regarding child custody and visitation are subject to the judge’s approval. If you have minor children, you must calculate child support based on the Florida child support guidelines.
A mediator might be helpful if you and your spouse need assistance working out the terms of a Marital Settlement Agreement. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps spouses settle their issues through productive discussions.
Are There Risks of Filing a Divorce Without an Attorney?
There are always risks when a person represents themselves in court and is unfamiliar with the law. Divorce lawyers understand the law and the rules of the court. Individuals who represent themselves can make mistakes that delay or complicate their case.
Without divorce attorneys involved, a spouse could take advantage of another spouse during divorce disclosures and discovery. For example, a spouse might conceal assets that should be included in the property division. Likewise, a spouse might hide income or resources that would be considered when calculating spousal support or child support payments.
Hiring an Orlando divorce lawyer ensures that you have an advocate protecting your best interests throughout the case. Because your divorce terms can significantly impact your future, you want to ensure you receive a fair divorce settlement.
Are You Ready for a “Do It Yourself” Divorce in Orlando, Florida?
Conti Moore offers a DIY Divorce Online Course for individuals who want to handle their divorce without a lawyer. You can choose from three different do-it-yourself divorce packages based on your needs and situation. The course helps ensure you get the process right so you can obtain a divorce using the package that is best for your situation.
Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today
Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803