The state of Florida provides three options for dissolution of marriage: simplified dissolution, regular dissolution and annulment. The requirements to legally end a marriage in Florida vary depending on which method you choose. Which method suits your needs best depends on your specific situation and whether you and your spouse agree on the most important topics.
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
In Florida, couples who meet all of the following can end their marriage quickly and easily by the simplified dissolution method.
- Both parties agree the marriage is not salvageable
- At least one of the parties has lived in Florida for the last six (6) months
- No children exist in the marriage, and the wife is not pregnant
- Both parties agree on division of debt and property
- Neither party wants alimony
- Both parties willingly submit financial statements, or both agree to waive the statement
- Both parties waive their right to trial and appeal
- Both parties agree to sign paperwork in the Clerk of Court’s office
- Both parties agree to appear at a final hearing
If any Florida couple wishing to divorce fails to meet all of these requirements, they must go through a regular dissolution of marriage.
Regular Dissolution of Marriage
Couples who do not meet all of the requirements for a simplified dissolution must file a petition for a regular dissolution of marriage. The spouse filing the petition (called the petitioner) must sign the paperwork in front of a notary or court clerk, and he or she must file any additional forms as deemed necessary as well. Once all paperwork is filed, the petitioner must deliver the divorce petition to the other spouse (called the respondent) who has 20 days to answer.
Before a judgement can be made and a divorce granted, both parties must:
- Address and agree upon all parenting, support and property issues.
- Attend parenting classes or mediation if both parties cannot agree on parenting issues
- Submit financial information if both parties cannot agree on financial matters
If both spouses agree on all issues, and their plans are reasonable, the court is most likely to approve them. However, If both parties are unable to come to terms on certain issues, the court will render the final decisions after a hearing.
A marriage ended by annulment is basically a marriage that never existed in the first place. In order for a marriage to legally end under annulment, one or both spouses must prove that the marriage was void from the onset. To do so, the spouse petitioning for annulment must prove:
- One of the parties was not capable of making responsible decisions, either because they were intoxicated or otherwise incapable of understanding what they were doing, or
- The parties never consummated the marriage, or
- One of the parties misrepresented themselves
Even if a marriage is invalid, if the couple waits too long to file for an annulment, the court may not grant it, citing the petitioners lived and acted like a married couple for too long.
For more information on the requirements to legally end a marriage in Florida, contact us today.