While most view the holidays as being largely idyllic — spending time relaxing, attending social engagements and catching up with loved ones — the reality is sometimes very different for others, particularly those who have made the difficult decision to move ahead with a divorce. Indeed, this may be the first time in many years that their traditions aren’t observed or the first time ever that they will be unable to spend Christmas with their children.
As emotionally draining as all this can prove to be, there’s also the chance that the so-called spirit of the holiday season can result in a separating couple having an epiphany about how they would like their divorce to proceed. Specifically, they may decide its best to move forward with it as quickly and as peacefully as possible.
As it turns out, Florida law provides a process designed to facilitate these wishes known as simplified dissolution of marriage.
What is a simplified dissolution of marriage?
In general, a simplified dissolution of marriage, sometimes referred to as an uncontested divorce, is a process whereby all separating couples have to do to finalize their divorce is complete and file paperwork, and appear together before a judge when the final dissolution is granted.
Can anyone file for a simplified dissolution of marriage?
Florida law dictates that a couple can only pursue a simplified dissolution of marriage if the following conditions are satisfied:
- Both spouses agree the marriage is irretrievably broken
- Both spouses agree to using simplified dissolution of marriage
- Neither spouse is seeking alimony
- Both spouses agree on property division (assets and debts)
- One of the spouses has lived in Florida for the previous six months
- The spouses have no minor/dependent children and no adopted children under 18, and are not currently expecting a child
What happens if just one of these conditions is not satisfied?
State law requires all of the above-mentioned elements to be satisfied. Any inability to do so will mean that the couple must undertake a regular dissolution of marriage.
What exactly is the difference between a simplified dissolution of marriage and a regular dissolution of marriage?
In a regular dissolution of marriage, or what you might call “regular divorce,” the spouses have the right to examine and cross-examine one another as witnesses, and the right to secure important financial information prior to trail or settlement. In a simplified dissolution of marriage, neither of these rights are granted.
Must a couple retain the services of an attorney if they decide to pursue a simplified dissolution of marriage?
While the process is set up in such a way that a simplified dissolution of marriage could technically be completed without an attorney, experts indicate that it can nevertheless prove to be a more complex process than couples anticipate. Indeed, an attorney can help ensure documents are filled out and filed correctly the first time, or perhaps advise one spouse as to whether this is a viable method of ending their marriage.
If you have questions or concerns regarding an uncontested divorce, contested divorce or a divorce-related issue, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional.
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
Latest posts by John Schutz (see all)
- Is a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage a Viable Option? - October 29, 2019
- What are the Types of Alimony in Florida? - October 19, 2019
- Property Division In Florida - October 8, 2019
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