Miami-Dade County Divorce Lawyer
Skillful representation for the “dissolution of marriage”
In Florida, the formal term for divorce is “dissolution of marriage.” Florida is among the many states that have done away with fault in divorce proceedings, so one spouse suing for dissolution need not accuse the other of any particular violation. This helps to maintain a measure of privacy even when the proceedings take place in open court.
To obtain dissolution, a spouse must prove three elements:
- A marriage exists
- One of the spouses has been a resident of Florida for at least six months (required even in cases of international divorce)
- The marriage is “irretrievably broken”
There are two paths to divorce in Florida: regular dissolution of marriage and simplified dissolution of marriage.
Regular dissolution of marriage in Florida
Regular dissolution of marriage begins with one spouse filing a petition in the circuit court of the county where the couple last lived together or the county where either party now resides. The petition must allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken and state what relief the suing party wants from the court. After the petition is filed, a copy of the petition must be served on the other spouse. When service is accomplished, the summons is filed with the court, and the clock starts ticking for the respondent spouse.
The respondent spouse has 20 days to file an answer with the court, which may contest the action or counter-sue for divorce adding additional claims. Both spouses have 45 days from the filing of the initial petition to exchange financial information, including a financial affidavit (sworn statement of finances). If one spouse has an urgent need for spousal support or child support, the court may order a temporary hearing to consider such matters, in which case the financial statements are due a few days prior.
Couples should attempt to come to an agreement about as many elements of their divorce as soon as possible, including alimony, child custody, child support, modifications of judgments and property division. Working with their attorneys, in standard negotiation or mediation, they can draft a Marital Settlement Agreement, which the court will generally approve. This saves time and reduces expenses for the couple. An uncontested divorce in Florida can become final in as little as a few weeks. Issues on which the spouses cannot agree must be litigated in court and will be decided by the judge. Attorney Arthur Lake can answer your questions about divorce in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County and throughout Florida.
Simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida
The simplified process can be even quicker and less expensive than uncontested regular dissolution, primarily because there are limited rights to discovery of financial information and cross-examination of witnesses and parties. But couples must first qualify by demonstrating that:
- They both agree to use simplified dissolution
- They have no minor or dependent children
- The wife is not pregnant
- At least one spouse has lived in Florida for the past six months
- Both agree on how all of their assets and debts should be divided
- Neither wants alimony
- Both agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Appeals of divorce judgments
As with any judgment of the court, divorce decrees are open to appeal. However, judges are allowed to exercise a great deal of discretion in family court. Miami-Dade divorce lawyers must prove that the judge misapplied the law or interpreted facts in an unreasonable manner to have any chance of reversing the decision.
Contact a knowledgeable divorce attorney in Miami-Dade
If you need further information about dissolution of marriage in Florida, contact the Law Offices of Arthur D. Lake, LLC. Call 305-378-1414 or contact the firm’s Miami office online to arrange a free initial consultation. Attorney Lake is also available to meet after business hours by appointment only.