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In Orlando, Tampa and throughout the state of Florida, the divorce process starts when one party (the petitioner) files a Petition for Divorce (also known as a complaint). The Petition for Divorce states the grounds for divorce and formally requests a divorce. The petitioner must then serve the Petition for Divorce and its accompanying documents on the opposing party (the respondent). The respondent must now serve an Answer (a response to the Petition for Divorce) on the petitioner within 20 days of being served with the Petition for Divorce. Generally speaking, at this point the divorce is underway and the parties may look to getting discovery or considering alternatives to trial. One thing to consider in the early stages of divorce (or even before filing) is whether or not you have an uncontested divorce.  An uncontested divorce means that the parties have come to an agreement about all of major areas of the divorce. If you are able to pursue an uncontested divorce, it can save you time and money.

  • Grounds for Divorce

    In Florida, there are two grounds for a divorce. The two grounds are (1) when the marriage is irretrievably broken and less commonly, (2) when one of the parties suffers from mental incapacity. In order for a divorce to be granted, one of the grounds must be plead in your initial filings. We will take a look at the two grounds for divorce in more detail below.

  • Petition for Divorce

    The petition for dissolution of marriage is also know as the petition for divorce or more commonly the complaint. Before a divorce proceeding can begin, the complaint must be filed in circuit court. After filing the complaint, a copy of both the complaint and summons must be served upon the other spouse through personal or constructive service. Generally, the complaint must include a short and plain statement of the grounds upon which the court's jurisdiction depends, a short and plain statement of the ultimate facts showing that the spouse is entitled to relief, and a demand for judgment for the relief to which the spouse deems himself or herself entitled.

  • Service of Documents

    When a party files a petition for divorce, motions, and other pleadings, the other party must be served with a copy of the documents in order to have proper notice of any forthcoming actions and hearings. Unless constructive service is lawfully permitted, personal service of the original or supplemental divorce petition and summons is required to be delivered to the other party by a deputy sheriff or private process server. If the opposing party is represented by an attorney, service must also be delivered by e-mail to their attorney.

  • Answer

    In the answer, the defendant will admit or deny each of the divorce petition’s allegations in short and plain terms. The defendant may choose to admit or deny the allegations of the petition as a whole or individually. If the defendant has insufficient information, the defendant may specify their inability to admit or deny the allegations. Furthermore, in the answer, the defendant may include a counterpetition that can request the same or additional relief or action, such as alimony or child support. The answer may also include "defenses" to certain allegations if the defendant and their attorney feel this is necessary.

Uncontested Divorce

If uncontested divorce is an option for you, it will likely save time, money and lead to a less contentious divorce. Often individuals believe their divorce is uncontested simply because both parties agree that they want a divorce. This is not what an uncontested divorce means. An uncontested divorce means that the parties have come to an agreement about all of four major areas of the divorce: (1) Child Custody (Time Sharing and Decision Making Power); (2) Child Support; (3) Alimony; (4)Equitable Distribution of Assets and Debts.

  • Uncontested Divorce Procedure

    The Procedure for an uncontested divorce will vary depending on whether the couple has a dependent or minor child. If the couple has a dependent or minor child together, or if the wife is pregnant, one spouse may file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Child(ren). If your spouse files an answer that agrees with everything in the petition, you may set a final hearing for the divorce with the circuit court. If the couple does not have a dependent or minor child and they agree upon every issue of the divorce, the couple may file a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage with the circuit court clerk. The couple will document the divorce agreement by signing a Marital Settlement Agreement. After the petition is filed, the circuit court clerk will assign the couple a date and time for the final hearing. 

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