How to File for Divorce in Florida Without an Attorney
Many people think of divorce as a lengthy litigation where the participation of lawyers on both sides is almost a prerequisite. The main expenses during a divorce usually fall on legal services, and many couples are afraid to initiate this process for fear of facing enormous spending. Even for a simple case, paying for lawyer services can cost spouses several thousand dollars. However, there are some more budget-friendly options available to partners that allow them to dissolve a marriage without legal representation.
If spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, they may file for divorce without a lawyer. This article explains in detail various aspects of a divorce by mutual consent, provides a step-by-step guide on filing for a divorce, and specifies the major difficulties the parties entering into an uncontested or simple divorce in Florida may face. You will learn that obtaining a divorce does not always cost a five-figure sum and involve spending all your savings.
Do You Need a Divorce Attorney in Florida?
To answer this question, you need to look at the circumstances of your case. Spouses may file for divorce without lawyers, but this is more applicable to uncontested cases, where the parties accept the fact that their marriage is irretrievably broken and do not blame each other for it. There are several requirements spouses must meet to enter into simplified divorce proceedings without legal assistance:
- Absence of minor children;
- Mutual agreement on the division of property, assets, and debts.
- Full cooperation with the other party.
- No claims for alimony.
In practice, however, many spouses decide to hire lawyers even for the easiest divorce cases. Conversely, some would-be exes engage in legal battles with many contentious issues without the slightest help from divorce attorneys. It may have negative consequences for them if spouses have little understanding of the intricacies of the divorce process and do not know how to properly defend their position in court.
People considering dissolving their marriage without lawyer’s services should understand that to get a divorce in Florida in a contested case, they must have a serious knowledge of Family Law and be well acquainted with the workings of the state court system. These are just the main conditions that will allow them not to fail during the hearings. It will be incredibly difficult for an unprepared person to get through a contested divorce without making mistakes.
How To Do Your Own Divorce in Florida?
If the parties are interested in saving money on expensive lawyers, the main thing they need to do before divorce is to settle all the conflicting issues. Simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida is an option that allows couples to get a divorce within 30 days, spending less than $500 on legal fees. Since such a process deprives the spouses of the right to a trial and appeal, they will not, most likely, require the services of attorneys.
When preparing your own Florida divorce forms, you are welcome to use our online service. For a flat fee of $139, our company provides clients with a complete list of divorce papers and instructions on how to file them with the court. This way, you will avoid any possible mistakes in the paperwork and will not need to pay a lawyer more than $300 per hour for legal consultations on the correct filling of forms.
One more option to end a marriage is a do-it-yourself divorce in Florida. Its complexity lies in the fact that the parties will have to search for divorce documents, including a divorce petition sample, and fill them out on their own. Typically, the forms can be found on state government websites or in the Clerk’s Office. The main advantage of this type of divorce is its low cost. The court fee of approximately $409 (+ about $50 for the service of process) will be the only expense for the divorce initiator. However, people who are not familiar with jurisprudence may still have issues finding a complete set of divorce paperwork applicable to their case and filling the forms correctly.
How to File for Divorce in the State of Florida?
The simplest divorce process in Florida will be the one in which the parties are cooperative and decide to avoid conflict. Before submitting documents to the court, the spouses must reach a settlement agreement for a quick and successful consideration of the case by a judge. There are several basic steps of filing for divorce in Florida:
1. Check if You Meet Florida Residency Requirements for Divorce
Compliance with Florida residency requirements for divorce is a prerequisite to starting the filing procedure. Under family law, the spouse initiating the divorce process must reside in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce. Getting a divorce in Florida without meeting this requirement is not possible. You will either have to wait 6 months or file for divorce in your state of residence.
2. Prepare the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
Preparing a Florida divorce papers package begins with finding and filling out a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This is an obligatory divorce form that includes basic information about the spouses and their children (if any).
In addition, the petitioner must find and correctly complete a number of divorce forms that are applicable to their particular case. Below is a list of the most common documents required in an uncontested divorce in Florida:
- Family Law Financial Affidavit.
- Notice of Social Security Number.
- Service Forms (including Summons, Process Service Memorandum and Certificate of Service).
- Marital Settlement Agreement.
The final set of required documents can vary and depends on the characteristics of each specific case. People may underestimate the complexity of finding and filling out divorce papers, so they often make mistakes in the forms or omit the necessary ones altogether. To minimize such risks, the parties can use our online service, which is focused on preparing documents for uncontested divorces. We will provide you with all the ready-made forms for your case and detailed instructions on filing them in court.
3. Prepare the Florida Marital Settlement Agreement
The drafting of a Florida marital settlement agreement in divorce proceedings without a lawyer is done by the spouses themselves. In this form, the future exes set out in detail the agreement reached on the main aspects of the dissolution of their marriage. In order to avoid any potential disputes, the parties should pay special attention to:
- Division of property, assets, and debts.
- Child custody.
- Child and spousal support.
- Retirement benefits.
- Health insurance for both spouses and their children.
4. Sign and Submit the Papers to Court
After the divorce forms are prepared, they should be printed and some of them notarized. You should make two copies for each document. Before filing divorce papers with the district court in the county of residence, you need to pay a filing fee. Then the clerk stamps all the files, keeping the originals in the court and returning copies to you.
5. Pay the Filing Fee or Ask for a Waiver
The Florida divorce filing fee is $408 ($409 in several counties). The court may require an additional fee of up to $15 for making copies of documents or self-representation. If the petitioner does not have the financial ability to pay these fees, they may file a Determination of Civil Indigent Status. In such a situation, the court may waive the fee or establish a schedule of phased regular payments.
6. Deliver a Petition Copy to Your Spouse
Once the paperwork has been filed with the court, the next step is serving your spouse with the divorce papers, notifying them of the marriage dissolution process. Under Florida Family Law, you are not allowed to do it in person. You may hire a third party for this purpose, and the cost of their services usually averages at $50. In most cases, the sheriff or private process server handles the delivery of the divorce documents’ copies. It should be noted that this step is not required when the spouses are filing for a simplified divorce.
7. Schedule and Attend a Court Hearing
Once the court sets a date for the final hearing, the party initiating the proceedings must send the Notice of Hearing to the other spouse. Often, couples wonder what happens at a divorce hearing. Typically, in an uncontested divorce, the judge will carefully review the Settlement Agreement and, if everything is in order, sign the final decree.
8. File the Final Disposition With the Clerk’s Office
Obtaining a final divorce decree is among the last steps in the divorce process. The parties agree to fill out the specified document, after which it is signed. At this point, the divorce is officially finalized. The only task remaining for the former spouses is to complete the Final Disposition and hand it over to the clerk.
The Divorce Process Timeline for Uncontested Cases in Florida
The quick divorce in Florida lasts about 30 days and is called simplified. Couples can go through this type of divorce without the help of a lawyer. In turn, an uncontested divorce in Florida lasts about 4 months on average. This time frame includes the case preparation phase of up to 3 weeks and the mandatory 20-day waiting period after filing for divorce. It provides the couple with a final opportunity to reconsider their decision to end a marriage.
When filing for divorce without a lawyer, the parties must settle all issues regarding the division of property, assets and debts, child custody, alimony, and spousal support. Therefore, a fast and easy divorce in Florida is possible if the spouses are willing to work together and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
How We Can Help
Our professional help with the divorce forms can greatly simplify the initial stages of your online divorce in Florida. Using our online service, couples will receive all the forms applicable to their case in the shortest possible time. We will also provide you with detailed instructions on what to do after the forms are ready and how to file them. The cost of the above services is only $139, which will come as a pleasant surprise to anyone who has decided to get a divorce.
We have created a system that helps you get all the necessary paperwork without a struggle. With an online divorce, all you need to pay is $139, irrespective of the number of forms needed for your case. Our questionnaire is designed to be simple and straightforward, even for those who do not have any legal background.
Michelle Walton is known as the divorce expert and content writer for flonlinedivorce.com. She is a regular contributor to Men’s Journal, and her articles about property division and child support custody can be seen on various divorce blogs. Michelle’s background in psychology and family law and her own experience with divorce make her equipped to write about various divorce-related topics professionally.