A Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce) is an action to terminate the contract of marriage. These matters are governed by the laws of the State of Florida (Florida Statutes) and the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. A divorce can be contested or uncontested. If you and your spouse can agree on all issues you may be able to have an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces are much faster and much less expensive than contested divorces.
In order to end a marriage, a person must obtain a final judgment from a circuit court dissolving the marriage. In that judgment, all property, support, and child-related issues ordinarily will be determined.
There are two legally acceptable reasons to obtain a divorce in Florida. One is that one party has been declared legally incompetent for a period in excess of three years. The other is the more common basis – that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” That means that there is nothing that the court can do (such as sending the couple to counseling) to induce the couple to reconcile. If there are children, and a person answers a petition for dissolution of marriage by denying that the marriage is irretrievably broken, then the court may order the parties to counseling and may delay the proceedings for up to three months to encourage and/or permit the parties an opportunity to reconcile.
There are specialized rules of procedure for family courts. Those rules require each party to provide the other with financial information within 45 days of the beginning of a case. Most counties require mediation prior to a final hearing and in many cases much earlier in the case. If children are involved, all parties will be required to attend parenting classes.
While a divorce is pending, a trial judge may enter temporary orders dealing with support, possession or maintenance of any individual asset, where the child or children will live, the time the child or children will spend with each parent, and attorney’s fees and costs. Some counties require specific issues be mediated prior to settling a hearing.