Are you going through a divorce in Orlando, FL? It’s important to prepare yourself by learning about the Florida divorce process in advance. An experienced Orlando divorce attorney at Conti Moore Law, PLLC, can help walk you through the issues you’re likely to encounter along the way.
Collectively, our lawyers have over 50 years of experience helping clients resolve sensitive family matters. We’d be proud to stand by you through this challenging time.
How Conti Moore Law, PLLC Can Help Throughout the Florida Divorce Process
When your marriage is ending, the legal aspects of your divorce may be the last thing on your mind. Divorce is often complicated enough. When emotions are heightened and you’re worried about your children and your finances, Conti Moore Law, PLLC is here to help.
Our Orlando family law attorneys have earned a perfect 10 Avvo rating. We’ve also been named to Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars for four years in a row. Most importantly, we’ve helped countless clients make it through the complex divorce process to a brighter future.
When you hire our team to help, you can expect a lawyer to:
- Offer knowledgeable and compassionate legal guidance throughout the divorce process
- Handle the paperwork necessary to initiate and resolve the divorce
- Represent you at your hearing or trial if necessary
- Offer sound solutions to resolve disputed issues as amicably as possible
- Handle all negotiations with your spouse and opposing counsel
You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. Our experienced Orlando divorce lawyers can help you resolve every issue that arises along the way. To learn more about the divorce process in Florida, call for a free consultation today.
Beginning the Divorce Process in Florida
To begin the divorce process in Florida, at least one spouse must file certain paperwork with the circuit court clerk.
The Orange County clerk offers standard form documents that must be filed. The exact paperwork necessary will depend on the couple’s circumstances.
Depending on the facts, you or your spouse may file a:
- Petition for a simplified dissolution of marriage
- Petition for a dissolution of marriage with children
- Petition for dissolution of marriage with property but no children
- Petition for dissolution of marriage with no property and no children
- Petition for a dissolution of marriage with children and relocation
A simplified dissolution of marriage is an uncontested divorce. A simplified dissolution of marriage is appropriate when the parties have no children and have already agreed upon how their marital assets will be divided. In these cases, the spouses agree to forgo spousal support and waive their right to a trial and appeal. Both spouses sign the petition if the divorce is relatively amicable and no issues remain.
In cases where issues regarding children, property division, and/or spousal support have yet to be agreed upon, one spouse must file a petition for a regular dissolution of marriage. The spouse who files is referred to as the “petitioner.”
Serving Divorce Papers
In cases involving a “regular” (non-simplified”) divorce, the petitioning spouse must make sure the other spouse (the “respondent”) has a copy of all relevant paperwork. This process is called serving the divorce papers.
The papers will be served upon the respondent through the local sheriff’s office. Once the respondent has received a copy of the divorce petition, they have the right to respond to the terms within.
What Happens After Divorce Papers Have Been Served?
If you have been served with divorce papers, you have 20 days to respond. The response is called an “answer.” You can use form documents provided by the Florida courts to respond.
If you fail to respond within the 20-day period, the family court may:
- Enter a default judgment of divorce granting the petitioning spouse’s request
- Schedule a hearing, if issues relating to children or asset division remain to be resolved
It is possible to have a default judgment vacated, however, if you were for some reason unable to reply within the 20-day timeframe.
Once you respond to divorce papers, the divorce proceedings will proceed in one of two ways:
- Uncontested divorce: if you agree with the terms of the petition and comply with all other requirements, either spouse can request a final hearing for divorce
- Contested divorce: if you disagree with any of the terms of the divorce petition and have filed all necessary paperwork, either party can file a Notice for Trial to resolve contested issues
It’s also possible that mediation may be required before the trial is scheduled.
What Are the Requirements for a Divorce in Florida?
You must satisfy certain requirements to be eligible for a divorce in Florida:
- Either spouse lives in Florida as a resident for at least six months before petitioning for divorce
- You must reside in the county where you file the divorce papers
Further, the final judgment will not be granted for at least 20 days after filing the initial divorce paperwork. This “waiting period” ensures that the respondent spouse has time to answer the original petition and contest any unresolved issues.
What Are the Grounds for a Divorce in Florida?
In past years, one spouse would have to specify their grounds for divorce. In other words, they’d have to prove adultery, cruelty, or some other reason for the divorce.
Today, it isn’t necessary for one spouse to offer a specific reason to obtain a divorce in Florida.
Under Florida Statutes Section 61.052, you can obtain a divorce if:
- The marriage is “irretrievably broken,” or
- One spouse has been mentally incapacitated for at least three years
The phrase “irretrievably broken” can mean just about anything. In other words, Florida is a no-fault divorce state where either spouse can essentially obtain a divorce simply because they want the marriage to end.
Spousal Support and the Florida Divorce Process
Spouses aren’t always in equal financial positions. It’s possible that one spouse may have missed out on educational or career opportunities to care for children. Any number of situations can arise.
Under Florida law, either party can petition for spousal support, or alimony, during the divorce process. The judge has discretion and may order periodic payments or a lump sum to help during the transition period.
Alimony may be determined based on:
- The spouses’ standard of living
- Duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s parenting responsibilities
- The financial resources of each spouse
- Other relevant factors
Even though Florida is a no-fault divorce state, the court can also consider each spouse’s behavior in determining whether to award spousal support. That includes any allegations of adultery or domestic violence by either party.
Division of Marital Assets During Divorce
Under Florida divorce law, the parties are entitled to an equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities.
First, each spouse’s nonmarital assets and liabilities are set aside. The family law judge begins with the presumption that division should be equal in dividing marital assets and liabilities.
However, there are grounds for the judge to decide that unequal distribution is appropriate, including:
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, including childcare
- Each party’s economic circumstances
- The duration of the marriage
- Whether one spouse should keep the house for children
- Whether it’s more desirable to maintain certain assets intact
Marital property generally includes any property acquired by either party during the marriage – although non-marital property can become marital property if it is used or improved by the couple over the course of the marriage.
Do you have questions regarding the equitable distribution of the assets during the divorce process? Call an experienced Orlando divorce attorney at Conti Moore Law, PLLC, for a free case evaluation today.
Child Custody Issues During a Divorce in Florida
Courts may intervene to determine temporary child custody arrangements that will apply while the divorce is pending. The family law judge will base any decision on your child’s best interests.
Our lawyers in Orlando can help your family work out the most favorable child custody arrangement for your family. Just call our law firm for a free initial consultation to learn more.
Child Support Payments
Every parent in Florida has a responsibility to support their children financially. Child support obligations during divorce will be based on a number of factors designed to ensure the well-being of the children.
Often, the noncustodial parent will be ordered to pay child support. However, both parents often share relatively equal parenting time during the divorce process. Depending on the circumstances, either parent could be responsible for paying child support.
Contact a Trusted Family Lawyer for a Free Consultation to Learn About the Florida Divorce Process
Preparing for a divorce can be an overwhelming experience. It can benefit both parties to learn about the divorce process early in the divorce proceedings. To learn more about how our experienced divorce attorneys can guide you through the Florida divorce process, call Conti Moore Law, PLLC, for legal advice today.