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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 – to the county circuit court where you reside. You must be county resident for at least six months.

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 your county's clerk's office. Before filing with the court, you must have your petition notarized. Fortunately, most courthouses can do this for free.

You will give the clerk a signed and notarized copy of the petition, including the filing fee. In return, you should receive a copy of the forms, which include a date stamp that shows the court has filed the petition.

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 your 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

Within 45 days after the petition is served, you must give your spouse a completed and signed a financial affidavit. 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
  • Property and assets
  • Debts
  • Bank and credit card accounts
  • Other personal finances

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.