In Florida, a divorce is referred to as dissolution of marriage. Typically, it is in the parties’ best interest that spouses work out between themselves how their affairs should be handled. This is typically referred to as an uncontested dissolution of marriage. All too often, this type of amicable resolution to your marriage isn’t possible. When spouses can’t agree how to divide their assets and debts or if they can’t agree how to share time with or financially provide for their children, the process is referred to as a contested dissolution of marriage.
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In a contested dissolution of marriage case a petition will need to be filed with the Clerk of the Court who will then issue a summons. That summons along with other paperwork will then be served by a process server on the other spouse. That spouse has 20 days to respond to the petition. Additional rules require that the parties exchange financial affidavits and other paperwork within a certain period of time. The Court will order that the parties attend mediation to try to resolve their differences. If this is not successful, a trial will be scheduled and the Judge will decide the unresolved issues after hearing testimony and reviewing evidence.
In an uncontested dissolution of marriage case, the spouses will likely complete all necessary paperwork prior to filing with the Court. Once the necessary documentation is obtained and filed with the Clerk of Court, a hearing date will be requested. At least one spouse will be required to attend a final hearing and provide testimony proving that they have been a resident of the State of Florida for at least six months prior to the dissolution and that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Depending on the availability of the Court’s time, this hearing can typically be scheduled within two to three months of the filing of the paperwork.
If the Court determines that one party has a need for financial support once the marriage is over and that the other party has the ability to pay that financial support, the Court can order alimony that may or may not be modifiable in the future. This alimony can be awarded as permanent, durational, rehabilitative or “bridge the gap”.
In Florida, the biological father of a child whose parents are not married has no rights or responsibilities until Paternity is established. It does not matter if the father’s name was listed on the birth certificate. It is very important for a father to establish his parental rights through the court. Likewise it is very important for a mother to establish a father’s parental responsibilities such as child support.
Florida law dictates that parents share parental responsibility and timesharing unless doing so is detrimental to the child.
Child support is calculated using guidelines that take into account the income of each parent, the needs of the child(ren) and the amount of overnights each parent has with the child(ren).
Once a dissolution of marriage or paternity case is final, the Court will issue an Order directing the parties of their rights and obligations. If a party desires to modify that Order they must prove that a substantial change in circumstances, that wasn’t anticipated at the time that the original order was entered, has occurred.