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Your Question Directly to An Attorney
What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is when there are no disputed or disagreed on issues. A common misconception is that it is an uncontested divorce when the divorce itself is not disputed. However, if there are any issues on which the parties cannot agree, such as the amount of child support or the appropriate timesharing arrangement, then it is a contested divorce until such time as those issues have been agreed on. If no agreement can be reached such as at Mediation, then the disputed issues will be decided by a Judge at Trial, the Final Judgment hearing.
How do I get a divorce if I cannot locate my spouse?
If you cannot locate your spouse, you will first need to make a good faith effort to locate them. This can include doing internet searches, contacting any of their family members that you can locate, hiring a private investigator to attempt to locate an address, and other various avenues. If upon making every effort to locate your spouse, you are still unsuccessful, then an Affidavit of Diligent Search will need to be filed that documents all of your attempts, and a Notice of Action will need to be issues. This Notice of Action will be published in a local newspaper. If, after proper publication in the correct jurisdiction, your spouse still does not respond, then you can get a Default Judgment entered and proceed with the divorce. If you are not familiar with the Rules of Family Law procedure, you should consult with an experienced Family Law attorney who can assist you with the proper process and procedure.
How do I get a divorce if my spouse won't cooperate and won't sign the papers?
Your spouse being required to "sign the papers" is a common misconception. Your spouse is only required to sign papers if it is an uncontested divorce with no disputed issues, in which case there would be a Marital Settlement Agreement and some other forms that would need to be signed and filed with the Court. If your spouse previously agreed to "sign the papers", but is now refusing to, in all likelihood you do not have an uncontested divorce with no disputed issues, which means you will have to proceed as a contested matter. This means that you will need to file a Petition for Dissolution and get the Petition served on him or her, and follow the normal process and procedure of a contested dissolution matter. If your spouse still refuses to cooperate (doesn't respond to the papers), then it is possible that you may be able to get a Default Judgment against them and finalize the divorce regardless.
Does Florida have a Legal Separation requirement?
No, Florida does not have a legal separation requirement. Unlike some jurisdictions that require the parties to be separated for a certain period of time prior to filing for divorce, Florida has no such requirement. In fact, the parties do not even need to be separated in order to file for a Dissolution of Marriage.
Does Florida have Legal Separation?
No, Florida does not have Legal Separation, per se. However, that said, there is nothing that stops the parties from entering into a written agreement that governs their rights and responsibilities during a period of separation and that could or would ultimately be used to resolve those same issues in the event of a subsequent divorce. A clearly defined Separation Agreement can frequently be extremely helpful if the parties are not ready to divorce and intend on being separated for an extended period of time. The Agreement can help to define marital assets and liabilities that accrue after the date of separation, as well as who is entitled to and responsible for what (such as 401k and retirement plans accrued and credit card debts incurred). Typically, this would be done via a Marital Settlement Agreement or Separation Agreement that would be entered into with the contemplation that it would be used in a subsequent dissolution of marriage proceeding, should one of the parties choose to pursue that route at a later date. PLEASE NOTE: A Marital Settlement Agreement or Separation Agreement should NEVER be signed or entered into without first consulting with an attorney in order to ensure that you fully understand your rights and potential options, as well as the future legal impact of such an Agreement! Once signed, you could be waiving valuable rights and entitlements that you don't even know you have!!
How long do I have to wait to get re-married after I get divorced?
There is no "waiting period". Once the Judge enters the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage in your case (and it has been properly recorded), you can apply for a marriage license to marry someone else the very next day. However, if you are required to go to Trial in your case, it is possible that the actual recording of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage can take several weeks due to drafting and processing times. Therefore, before you apply for a marriage license to marry someone else, you should always check to be sure that your divorce has been finalized and that the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage has been properly recorded.
Can I get an annulment instead of getting a divorce?
Typically, the only grounds for an annulment are if there was a substantial and material representation which would constitute fraud (which can be very difficult to prove) or if the marriage was void from its inception. A marriage is only void from its inception if your spouse was already married to someone else at the time of your marriage. Unless your marriage is null and void due to your spouse being already married to someone else, then typically it is much simpler and quicker to get a divorce in Florida. However, if your marriage is null and void due to your spouse already being married at the time of your marriage, then you would need to get an annulment to decree the marriage null and void as a matter of law.
What are the grounds for getting divorced in Florida?
Florida is what is considered a "No Fault" State. This means that unlike some jurisdictions (States) that require infidelity, abandonment, abuse or some other "grounds" or "fault" in order to file for divorce, Florida does not. All Florida requires is that the marriage be irretrievably broken. Typically, at the Final Judgment Hearing the reason why the marriage is irretrievably broken will be briefly addressed; however, a simple response such as "I'm tired of the fighting" or "I don't love her anymore" or "I can't deal with the control and verbal abuse anymore" or "He cheated on me" or whatever reason there is in your case, will suffice. No proof has to be offered to substantiate the reason. It is enough that you feel that way.
Can my spouse force me to leave the house?
In nearly all circumstances, the Answer is No. As the spouse, you have a right to reside in the marital residence regardless of whether your name is on the mortgage, note or deed. In order to force you to leave, your spouse would have to evict you (and one spouse cannot evict the other). Additionally, if your name is on the deed, even if it is not on the mortgage or note, the house belongs legally to both of you.
Your Question Directly to An Attorney
Your Question Directly to An Attorney