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Steps to Take Before You File for Divorce

Steps to Take Before You File for Divorce

If you have decided to file for divorce in Florida, here is an overview of what must be done. If you have any specific questions regarding your case, it is imperative to contact an experienced family lawyer for legal advice.

Prepare Forms

The first step is to file the right forms for your divorce – also known as “dissolution of marriage” in Florida – in the correct circuit. You must file for divorce in the county where you live, and you need to be a resident of that county for at least six months before filing for divorce.

The first form to complete and file is the “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.” The filing spouse is considered the “petitioner,” while the other is the “respondent.”

To obtain a divorce in Florida, you must demonstrate that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that one of the spouses has been mentally incapacitated for three years. All issues you want the court to address needs to be included in your petition, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support.

File Your Forms

Give your petition for dissolution of marriage to the clerk’s office of the circuit court for the county where you are filing. Before filing with the court, you must have your petition notarized. Most courthouses have a notary present who can do the job, free of charge.

You will provide a copy of your signed and notarized petition to the clerk, which includes the filing fee for a divorce. They should give you back a copy with a date stamp and notation showing that it has been filed with the court.

Make a copy of the petition for yourself and another copy to serve on your spouse.

Serve Your Forms

“Serving” your spouse entails giving him or her a copy of your filed petition for dissolution of marriage. There are various ways to serve your spouse with your petition.

If your spouse agrees, he or her and his or her attorney can accept the service. You spouse needs to complete an “Answer and Waiver of Service” form, which can be found at your county clerk’s office.

If you spouse lives in another county, you must have the sheriff’s office or a private process server for the county where your spouse resides serve the petition. If you can’t find your spouse, you can still serve him or her by “constructive service,” which means having the notice of being served published in a local newspaper for up to 30 days.

Financial Disclosures

It is mandatory to run over a completed and signed a financial affidavit to your spouse within 45 days of the date your divorce petition is served. You can obtain a blank financial affidavit from your circuit court clerk’s office.

The following are the types of information and documents you must include:

  • Income
  • Assets
  • Debts
  • Bank statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Personal financial statements

If you are interested in filing for divorce in Florida, Mitchell & West LLC is ready to protect your rights and best interests, as well as help you obtain the most favorable outcome possible. We can conduct a thorough review of your case, determine all of your available legal options, and help you start the next chapter of your life.

Contact our Miami divorce attorney and schedule a consultation today.