How to file for a divorce is frequently asked by people who come to see me. Filing for a divorce is not a complicated process, and it is important to make sure you know exactly what is needed for your case. Details are important!
This post will provide you with helpful information about how to file for divorce in Florida.
How To File For Divorce - Choose The Right Petition
The Petition is the document that starts your divorce action. It is the document that sets forth for the Court what the allegations and issues are in your case, and what you are asking the Court to decide for you. Your choices are:
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Children Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Dependent or Minor Children Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Dependent or Minor Children or Property
Some Clerks have packets available for purchase that include these forms. You can also get these forms online.
Here's a free piece of advice...
Do not air all your family's dirty laundry in your petition. Keep your statements as generic as possible. Your court filings become public record and are available for anyone to see. Working as an Orlando Divorce Lawyer for over a decade, I always minimize the amount of family-specific information in my client's Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
Complete All The Other Necessary Forms
I have consultations with people who ask me “Do I have to fill in everything?” My advice is to complete a form with as much detail as possible, and don't assume that something does not apply to you. If you are not sure, ask for help. Many attorneys, including me, will provide consultations for people who need help understanding the forms and what their rights are.
Be aware that some forms require a notary.
File Your Completed Forms With The Clerk of The Courts
Take your completed forms to the Clerk of the Courts. Each county has its own Clerk which are typically located in the courthouse.
You will have to pay a filing fee, which may be different in each county. This fee is not insignificant. For example, the filing fee in Orange County, Florida at the time of the writing of this post is $408.00.
Have Children? Take The Required Parenting Class
ALL divorcing parents are required to attend an approved Parenting Class. You will receive a certificate of completion which must be filed with the Clerk.
What is The Most Important Form?
Every Florida divorce requires that each spouse file a financial affidavit. The financial affidavit is the most important form in your case.
Did you know that if you file a fraudulent financial affidavit and get divorced that your former spouse might be able to have your final judgment of divorce thrown out? There is a Florida rule that allows your spouse to request that the Court throw out the final judgment of divorce if you lied on your financial affidavit.
If a Judge hears your case, they will base much of your credibility on your financial affidavit. It is not unheard of for a Judge to discount what a spouse testifies to if they have clearly lied on their financial affidavit.