Divorces tend to fall into three categories; those in which both parties are in agreement regarding details surrounding the divorce, those in which there is some disagreement between the parties and the third type, a divorce in which the couple agrees about virtually nothing. If you and your spouse are in agreement about all aspects of your divorce—and meet the state-specified criteria—you might be able to file Florida family law form 12.901(a), Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. One unique feature of the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is that the two of you are allowed to waive the requirement of filing a Financial Affidavit. If both parties have been residents of Florida for at least 180 days prior to the date on which you file your Petition for Dissolution—and if the following statements are true—you can file a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage:
• There is no dissent regarding how your assets and liabilities will be divided and both parties are satisfied with the level of financial disclosure they received from the other.
• Neither party is requesting spousal support.
• Both parties are in agreement that your marriage is irretrievably broken. There are no minor or dependent children of the marriage.
• There is no current pregnancy resulting from the marriage.
• You have both met the requirement for filing financial affidavits have mutually agreed to waive those requirements.
• You have no problem relinquishing your right to trial or appeal, and neither does your spouse.
• You are both amenable to signing the petition in the office of the clerk.
• You are both amenable to attending your final divorce hearing.
If you fail to meet even one of the above criteria, you will be required to file a regular Petition for Divorce. Should you decide to file the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage on your own, it must be printed legibly in black ink or typed. Photo ID must be provided at the time your signatures are witnessed by the clerk. Either photo ID or your voter registration card can be used to prove you or your spouse has been a resident of the state of Florida for at least six months prior to filing the Petition. If you have neither of those documents, you could be forced to find a person who has knowledge of your Florida residence and can testify to this information in court.
What to Do With the Completed Petition
Once you have completed the form, the original must be filed with the clerk in the county where you reside. Filing fees may vary; the clerk can tell you how much you will owe. A cover sheet—known as a Family Court Cover Sheet—is required as well, and can be secured from the court clerk. You will be given a date and time to appear in court for your Dissolution of Marriage. The court clerk will give you a date and time for your court appearance. You will need to prepare a Final Judgment of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage; this Final Judgment must be brought with you on the day you attend your hearing. On the day of the hearing, if all your paperwork is in order, the judge can finalize your divorce by signing the Final Judgment document.
Should You File Your Own Divorce Documents?
While there may be certain cases where filing your own Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage is possible, there can be any number of complications you are not expecting. Generally speaking, those who prepare their own divorce papers have more time than money, meaning they are willing to spend the necessary time deciphering the legal form, driving back and forth to the courthouse and spending time standing in line. In a large percentage of cases where divorce forms are self-prepared, at least one or more forms will be rejected due to mistakes. Many people underestimate the amount of time it will actually take as well as the levels of frustration and annoyance experienced while attempting to ensure all forms are properly filed. Further, many people who are absolutely certain they are in total agreement with their spouse on all aspects of the divorce are shocked to find out that there are points of disagreement.
Having an experienced Florida family law attorney from The Law Place can eliminate the time you spend at the courthouse as well as a significant amount of the frustration. Our attorneys have been helping people just like you for well over two decades. We are highly knowledgeable in all Florida family laws, and know how to use those laws to your advantage. Even if you are “only” filing a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, it can often mushroom into a much more complicated situation, best handled by an experienced attorney from The Law Place. While you certainly can file your own divorce papers, if you want to ensure your rights are fully protected, call an attorney from The Law Place.