WHAT IS AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
An uncontested divorce is a simple way for married couples to get divorced when they agree on how to settle all their divorce-related issues, like custody (also known as “Parental Responsibility”), visitation (also known as “Time Sharing”), dividing property and debt (“Equitable Distribution”), alimony (“Spousal Support”) and child support.
Instead of having to go to court for a Judge to make decisions in your divorce, you will complete all of the necessary documents and file it all with the Clerk of Court. You will need a Martial Settlement Agreement that details everything you and your spouse have agreed to. Some counties also require a final hearing where you may have to make a brief appearance.
When you have minor children, your judge must approve your Parenting Plan and child support amount. The judge does have the option to reject your agreements regarding the children if he or she does not believe your agreement is in the best interest of your children.
The last step is for your judge to enter a Final Judgment granting your divorce.
IS THERE A WAITING PERIOD
Yes. There is a mandatory 20-day waiting period from the time you file your petition for divorce, also known as a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage,” before a judge can enter your Final Judgment granting your divorce.
WHAT DOES AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE COST
The cost for your uncontested divorce will depend upon one or more of the following:
- Whether you use a document preparation service to prepare your forms
- Whether you or your spouse hire a lawyer
- Whether you and your spouse need mediation to help you come to an agreement
- Whether you and your spouse have documented your agreements in writing
Here at Leap Frog Divorce, we help people like you with uncontested divorces all the time. We keep the process as simple and uncomplicated as possible. We will walk through each step and make sure everything is done right the first time so there are no surprises later. We offer very affordable options for an uncontested divorce, and your first 30-minute consultation with a lawyer is at no cost to you.
In general, when working with a lawyer to help you, you should expect your uncontested divorce to cost somewhere between $1,500 and $5000. The lawyer you choose may or may not include the Clerk of Court required filing fee. That fee is typically about $400. So expect to pay the Clerk's filing fee on top of the fee you will pay your lawyer. Your total attorney's fee will also be dependent upon whether you have children. If you have minor children, you will also need a formal Parenting Plan document prepared.
There may also be some other factors in your situation that may increase the cost of your uncontested divorce. The general guideline above of $1,500 to $5000 is a practical range that you should expect to pay in attorney's fees for your uncontested divorce.
DO I QUALIFY FOR AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
The first condition you must meet to qualify for any divorce in Florida is that you or your spouse must reside in Florida for at least six (6) months prior to filing a petition for divorce.
The second condition you must meet is grounds for a divorce or a legal reason justifying a divorce. Fault is not required. The most common reason is that your marriage is irretrievably broken. This simply means that there is nothing that can be done to save the marriage. The other ground for divorce which is less common is that your spouse is mentally incapacitated.
HOW DOES IT WORK
STEP 1 – You get the required forms to complete. They are all online and available to you free of charge. Or, you can hire a lawyer to handle your uncontested divorce for you. You might also find a document preparation service that can help you complete all of your paperwork. If you choose a document preparation service, you will not be able to get any legal advice if no member of the staff helping you is a licensed attorney in Florida.
STEP 2 – Once all of your documents are prepared, file them with the Clerk of Courts in your county and pay the required filing fee. The filing fee divorce varies by county and is usually around $400.
If you have minor children, you will be required to complete a parenting course. You will also need to prepare a Parenting Plan.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN
You can have an uncontested divorce even if you have children. It might increase the cost compared to a similar family with no children because a Parenting Plan is required that details your custody and visitation agreements. You will also need child support calculations and a Florida Child Support Guidelines Worksheet for the judge to review.
IF I HAVE SUBSTANTIAL ASSETS CAN I GET AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
Yes. As long as you and your spouse agree about how to divide your property and debt, you can get an uncontested divorce.
ARE LAWYERS NEEDED FOR AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
Hiring a lawyer is not required. However, it may be a really good idea.
You can hire a lawyer to simply review your agreements and advise you about your rights, duties, and responsibilities under Florida law. You could also hire a lawyer to handle only certain part of your uncontested divorce, such as preparing your Marital Settlement Agreement or filing all of your documents and getting the judge's signature on a Final Judgment.
If you are having some trouble negotiating with your spouse, you could also hire a lawyer to help you with the negotiations.
The less complex your situation is, the less likely you will need a lawyer.
For example, if you do not have any minor children and neither of you is seeking alimony from the other, you may not need a lawyer. If you have very few assets, you might not need a lawyer. If you have minor children, a home, retirement plans, and own a business, I would strongly recommend you consult with a lawyer to review your agreement.
BENEFITS OF AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
The top two benefits are cost and time.
An uncontested divorce will almost always cost less than a contested divorce where you and your spouse do not agree on certain issues and cannot negotiate a settlement. In addition, an uncontested divorce can be finished must faster.
Another benefit is that you stay out of court. The only time you may have to appear is if your particular county requires an in-person final hearing.
WHEN AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE IS NOT A GOOD OPTION
If you have a complex situation and are arguing about issues like custody, visitation, alimony, or child support, an uncontested divorce may not be a viable option for you.
If your relationship has a significant power imbalance with your spouse having substantial dominance and control over you, an uncontested divorce may not be a good choice.
If you have a history of domestic violence in your marital relationship, it will be incredibly difficult for you to negotiate effectively with your abusive spouse. So an uncontested divorce will likely not be a good choice for you.
DO BOTH SPOUSES HAVE TO BE RESIDENTS OF FLORIDA
No. Only one spouse has to have resided in Florida for six (6) months prior to filing a petition for divorce.
HOW DOES VISITATION WORK IN AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
Visitation, also known as “Time Sharing,” works the same way as in any other divorce. You and your spouse have to agree to a visitation schedule for each of your children. Your visitation agreements should specify things like the following:
- when will each child spend time with mom
- when will each child spend time with dad
- at what time and what days will an exchange of the children take place and where will it take place
- who will have the children for each holiday
- who will have the children during school breaks, such as Winter Break, Spring Break, and Summer
DO I HAVE TO DISCLOSE MY FINANCES IN AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE
If you and your spouse have no children, reach agreement on how to divide your property, and neither of you is requesting permanent financial relief from the court, then you can avoid having to file a Financial Affidavit.
You can also waive what is called “Mandatory Disclosure.” Mandatory Disclosure refers to the Florida rule that requires each spouse to exchange a long list of financial documents with each other. Here are some of the documents required to be exchanged under the Mandatory Disclosure rule:
- IRS tax returns
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Lease agreements
- Retirement statements
- Credit reports
- Brokerage/investment statements
ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF UNCONTESTED DIVORCE TO CHOOSE FROM
Yes. Florida provides two options.
The first option is called a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.” This is available to married couples who do not have any minor children and neither of them is seeking alimony from the other. In addition, neither spouse can be pregnant. Furthermore, both of you must agree to use this divorce option and you must have a complete agreement that your marriage is irretrievably broken and how to divide your property and debt.
The second option is a regular dissolution of marriage that is going to proceed as “uncontested.”
CONTACT A SKILLED, AGGRESSIVE, COMPASSIONATE AND EXPERIENCED ORLANDO DIVORCE LAWYER TODAY
Starting a divorce can be difficult. Divorce is the second, most stressful event someone will ever experience. It is important to have a guide who can help you identify your rights and responsibilities that you might overlook trying to do it yourself. Having an attorney who focuses their practice 100% on family law and divorce is essential because you need a professional who understands everything about divorce. The anger, the fear, the betrayal, and the anxiety about your financial future.
Divorce and divorce-related situations is all we do here at Leap Frog Divorce. We're ready to help you today, and we have affordable options.