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Petition for Divorce

A divorce case in Orlando, Tampa and throughout the State of Florida, begins with the filing of a petition for dissolution of marriage. The petition for dissolution of marriage is also known 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. 

The petition for dissolution of marriage is also know as the petition for divorce or more commonly the complaint. 

Additionally, as a separate attachment in the initial complaint, each party is required to provide their full name, social security number, and social security number of each of the minor children from the marriage. The spouse petitioning for divorce must sign and affirm in the complaint that they understand that they are under an oath to tell the truth. 

What Must a Petition/Complaint Contain?
 

Here is what makes up a typical divorce complaint or petition for dissolution of marriage. 

  1. Jurisdiction/Residence – One of both of the parties (Husband or Wife) must have lived in Florida for at least 6 months before filing the petition. 
  2. Marriage History - The petition must contain the date of marriage, the date of separation and the place of marriage. 
  3. Children -  If there are no minor children, the petition must state that fact. If there are minor children and/or the wife if pregnant, the petition must state that the wife is pregnant and/or the name(s) and birth date(s) of any minor children common to both parties. 
  4. Other Children – The petition should also let the court know about any other children like children born or conceived during the marriage that are not common to both parties and/or children over 18 years old but who are dependent on the parties due to mental or physical disability. 
  5. Financial Affidavit – The petition must affirm that a completed financial affidavit is completed and filed with the petition or will be timely filed thereafter.
  6. UCCJEA – If you have minor children you must complete a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit. It must be attached to the petition and filed with the petition.
  7. Social Security Information – A completed Notice of Social Security Number Form.
  8. Grounds for Divorce – A petition must contain the statutory grounds for divorce (the legal reason the divorce should be granted). In Florida, the grounds for divorce are either the marriage being irretrievably broken or the mental incapacity of a spouse. 
  9. Marital Assets & Liabilities - If there are no marital assets or liabilities the petition must state that fact. If there are marital assets or liabilities, you must first affirm that they are or will be listed in the accompanying financial affidavits. Next, the petition must state whether the parties have agreed to how the assets and liabilities will be divided in writing. If there is no agreement, the petition must state that the court should determine how the assets and liabilities of the marriage will be divided. 
  10. Alimony – If a spouse is seeking alimony this must be mentioned in the petition otherwise that spouse will waive their right to seek alimony. The petition must contain a statement that a party is either seeking alimony or forever giving up his/her right to seek alimony. If a party is seeking alimony the petition must state how much will be paid, the frequency of payments and the length of time alimony will last. The petition should also explain why alimony is being requested and what type of alimony is being requested. 
  11. Parenting Plan – If there are minor children involved, the petition must state who the children are currently residing with and whether parental responsibility (decision making authority) will be shared by both parties or awarded solely to one party. The petition must also state whether a proposed Parenting Plan detailing the time sharing arrangement with the children is included and whether that proposed plan has been agreed to by both parties. If there is no proposed parenting plan, the petition must request the court should establish one. 
  12. Child Support – If there are minor children involved, the petition must contain a request for child support and must affirm whether a completed Child Support Guidelines Worksheet is or will be filed. The petition should also state who will be responsible for obtaining and paying for medical/dental insurance. Additionally, the petition must state who will be responsible for uncovered medical expenses for the children or how those expenses will be split between the parties. 
  13. Wife’s Maiden Name – If the wife chooses, the petition must contain a request that the Wife be known by her former name. 
  14. Requests – The final section of a petition should summarize to the court what the petitioner is asking for. 

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