Authored by Mary Lamphere in Divorce
Published on 12-05-2009
Filing for divorce is a difficult task emotionally but it really isn’t that difficult physically. In Florida, filing for divorce is a matter of filling out a few quick forms, paying the filing fee and waiting for a response. In the event that no response is received, the filing procedure quickly advances to the final stages and is completed in less than two months.
Filing for Divorce in Florida Step 1: Forms and Where to Find Them
Florida state courts offer self help forms online for individuals who wish to file for divorce on their own with or without the assistance of an attorney. Family Law self help forms are free to print from home and they all include basic instructions to help you determine which forms you need and how to fill them out correctly. You can find family law forms on the Florida Courts website at www.flcourts.org.
There are a few different forms that are necessary for filing for the initial divorce procedure to begin. If you do not have children or personal property that you intend to fight for then you will file Florida Law form 12.901a which is called a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. For a divorce that includes a custody issue with minor children, 12.901b will be required.
Additionally, when you file the petition for dissolution of marriage you will also be required to file the following forms as well:
- 12.902c Financial Affidavit
- 12.902e Child Support Guidelines Worksheet (if you have children)
- 12.902j Notice of Social Security Number
Filing for Divorce in Florida Step 2: Where to File Divorce Forms
Once you have printed and filled out the above listed divorce forms you will need to file them. Forms are typically filed in the county in which the initial marriage certificate was filed. Take the forms with you to the courthouse for the county in which you were married and ask the clerk of the court in the family law division to file the forms for you. There is usually a fee associated with the filing of the forms. Additionally, you will also need copies of the forms to mail, hand deliver, or have served by a process server to the spouse whom you are divorcing.
The clerk of the court will swear you in, have you sign the forms in her presence, and then stamp them to be filed. If you choose to have the spouse served by a process server you will likely have to pay an additional fee (usually $25) and you will have to provide the court with an address at which they can reach the other individual. If you do not have an address you will need to provide as much information as possible because the divorce proceedings will not continue until the other individual is served with the paperwork.
Filing for Divorce in Florida Step 3: Answers and Counter Petitions
Once you have filed the initial dissolution of marriage forms and your spouse is served he or she will have 20 days to respond to your petition in writing to both you and the court. If the spouse does not respond then you can file form 12.902f which is a Marital Settlement Agreement. In this form you will address the fact that the spouse did not answer your petition so you are therefor considered in agreement on all terms listed in the original petition for dissolution of marriage.
Should the spouse answer your original petition and file a counter petition then you will also need to file an answer within 20 days of being served paperwork from the court. At this time the divorce procedure can become pretty tricky and it is advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney for further divorce proceedings. In most cases, the filing procedure up to this point is very simple and does not require the assistance of an attorney.