Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce
Divorce is not easy. You should learn as much as you can about the basics of divorce before you start your case. Attorney Leanne Perez is providing information and advice on her website to give you a better understanding about divorce and the divorce process. Hopefully by learning some of the basics of divorce, you will have the knowledge and confidence you need in order to move forward with your case. Please remember that the information contained on this website is basic and is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for the assistance of an experienced attorney.
The following questions are commonly asked by people who are contemplating a divorce in Florida courts.
1. I have to get a divorce, but I do not understand what "dissolution of marriage" means. Why does the term "dissolution" appear in all my legal documents?
In Florida, dissolution is the legal term for divorce. "Divorce" is the common term used to refer to a marriage that has been legally terminated. There is no "legal" difference in the use of the term "dissolution" in this state and the legal documents filed with the Court will refer to "dissolution of marriage" rather than "divorce."
2. Where can I file a divorce petition?
In most cases, Florida has a residency requirement in order to file for divorce. If you are filing for divorce in Florida, then you or your spouse must have lived in the state for a minimum of 6 months before the filing of the case. When both spouses agree, they can file their case in any county, regardless of where either of them live. Your husband or wife would be the person who could require you to transfer the case to the county where you live. That is why, if both agree, you can choose the county in which to begin the process.
3. I got married in another country outside of the United States. Can I get a divorce here?
Of course! Regardless of where you got married, you can get a divorce in Florida. The only requirement is that at least one of the spouses has resided in Florida for a minimum of 6 months before the filing of the case.
4. I live in Florida but I do not have a license or identification (I.D.) of the State of Florida. How do I prove that I am a resident of Florida?
If you do not have a driver's license or ID, the Court requires that an Affidavit of Corroborating Witness be executed and filed in the case. This is an affidavit that a person, known to you, declares that they know you and that they know that you have lived in the State of Florida for a minimum of six months immediately before starting the divorce proceedings. Attorney Leanne Perez can prepare the affidavit at no extra cost.
5. If I am not a legal resident of the United States, can I also get a divorce?
Of course! When we talk about "being a resident of Florida for a minimum of 6 months" we mean "having lived in Florida for a minimum of six months". Your immigration status is not an impediment to filing your Florida divorce.
6. Do I have to give the reasons why I want a divorce?
Florida is a no-fault state. TThis means that anybody that would like to go through the divorce process may do so without having to prove that there was any wrong doing on the part of either spouse. In Florida, there are two legally acceptable reasons to file for a divorce: one is that one of the parties has been declared legally incompetent for a period of more than three years; the other cause is the most common: that the marriage is hopelessly broken. This means that there is nothing the court can do to assist the couple in reconciling.
Florida eing a no-fault state is a good thing. Spouses slinging mud against each other might feel good in the short run, but in the long term it can lead to expensive and drawn-out litigation, which can destroy the co-parenting relationship that you’ll need to maintain with your spouse going forward if you have children.
7. What if I want a divorce but my spouse does not want it? Do I need to get my spouse's consent to get divorced?
No, your spouse's consent to a divorce is not required. If your spouse disagrees with the divorce, you can still move forward with the divorce case.
8. What happens after my divorce case is filed in court?
After you have completed the documents and they are filed with the Court, your spouse will have to be "served" via service of process. This means that he or she should get a copy of the documents you filed in the case, so that he/she knows that they are being sued and so they know what you are asking for. Service of process is usually done by a sheriff or a private process server. Your spouse will have 20 calendar days to respond in writing.
If your spouse files the case first, then you will have to be served with the divorce papers. You will have 20 calendar days to respond to the lawsuit. It is important that you hire the services of an attorney as soon as possible, since if you do not respond within 20 days, the judge may declare you in default. If this happens, your rights may be affected.
9. Can the the same lawyer represent me and my spouse?
No. There is always a conflict of interest in a divorce and one lawyer can not represent both parties. However, if the non-filing spouse is in agreement with the divorce, they may choose to not hire their own attorney in the case since there is nothing to litigate.
10. How long will my divorce take?
If both parties agree to everything and sign the necessary documentation, the case can take 1 to 2 months. If you have to go through a mediation process, 3 to 6 months. If the parties decide to fight until the end, the case can take 1 to 2 years (or longer).
11. What is mediation and do I have to go?
If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse on any of the pending issues in your divorce case, Florida law requires you to go through a mediation process before you go to court. Mediation is a process that helps you and your spouse try to resolve outstanding issues in the divorce and reach a resolution by negotiating through the attorneys with the assistance of a mediator. If an agreement is reached on the day of the mediation, the mediator prepares the settlement agreement, the parties sign it, and the case is resolved. The remaining step would be to attend a court date (5-10 minutes long) for the judge to ratify the agreement and sign the order granting the divorce.
If a resolution is not reached in mediation, then the case goes to trial. At trial, attorneys present evidence and arguments for each party and the judge will decide outstanding issues, including custody of children and time sharing, child support and spousal and property division. Once the judge reaches a decision on allof the pending issues, he/she will then grant the divorce.
12. What should I bring to my first consultation with a lawyer?
Attorney Leanne Perez offers a free initial consultation. If you are considering divorce, you should prepare a list of any and all questions you may have about the divorce process and any other related concerns. If you have a detailed list of marital assets and debts, a proposal for a time sharing schedule with minor children, pay stubs from both parties, then you should bring these documents with you to the consultation. Preparing for the consultation is an important step and we have provided some important information for you online to help you get started.
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If you are considering a divorce, or if you are in the process of getting a divorce and need legal representation, contact Attorney Leanne Perez today at (904) 990-3066. She is willing to help you with your divorce and help you understand the basics of divorce in Florida.