If you are seeking a divorce in Miami Dade county, Florida, unless you have gone through a divorce in the state before, you may be wondering what goes on and how to handle it.
Divorces are usually portrayed as long legal matters with endless subpoenas and lawyers fighting until it becomes personal. But, depending on several factors, your divorce could be easy or difficult.
Whatever the specifics of your case, understanding what to expect during your Miami divorce will help you determine how complex it will be and how to handle the process smoothly. Here are ten things you should know about getting a divorce in Miami before you start the process.
1. You must meet residency requirements
To file for a divorce in Florida, you or your spouse must have lived in Florida for at least six months before you start the filing process. You must provide evidence to prove you satisfy the requirement. The evidence could be in the form of the following:
- A copy of your or your spouse’s state driver’s license, ID card, or voter registration card if it was issued at least six months before the filing date.
- A signed and notarized affidavit of a witness who will swear under oath that they know you or your spouse lived in the state for at least six months.
The court won’t have jurisdiction over the case if you don’t meet these residency requirements. You will have to wait or file in the state you reside in.
2. Florida is a no-fault divorce state
There are two types of divorces: fault and no fault. In a fault divorce, a partner files for divorce on fault- or blame-based grounds. Examples of fault or blame include abuse, adultery, abandonment, etc. No fault divorce needs no explanation or blame.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you don’t have to give a reason or blame each other for the divorce. You can only use two reasons:
- Your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” That is, it is impossible to settle the disputes, and they are serious enough to make the marriage impossible.
- Your spouse has been mentally incapacitated for three or more years. If you give this reason, you must send a divorce notice to your spouse’s guardian or nearest blood relative.
Although Miami Dade County courts don’t consider fault-based grounds during the divorce, they consider them when deciding on custody, property division, support, etc.
3. It doesn’t matter who files first
As a no-fault divorce state, it doesn’t matter who files the petition first. If your partner files them before you, they aren’t at a legal advantage, nor are you at a legal disadvantage.
4. Your spouse doesn’t have to agree
Both spouses don’t have to agree on a divorce in Florida. The judge can award the divorce even if your spouse refuses it. They have 20 days to respond to your petition, or it becomes a default divorce.
5. You don’t have to be separated for a certain period before you file for a divorce
Florida is one of the few states that doesn’t specify a minimum amount of separation or waiting period before filing for divorce. So you don’t have to wait and can file for divorce immediately.
6. You must disclose your finances
45 days after you serve your spouse the petition for dissolution of marriage, you are required to produce a completed and signed affidavit that contains all your financial information, including:
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Personal financial statements
You must also provide any other document containing pertinent financial information.
7. Your divorce can take as little as three weeks
Florida has a Simplified Dissolution Procedure that can take as little as three weeks to free you from your up-and-coming ex. But it is only available if:
- You have no minor or dependent children
- The wife is not pregnant.
- You and your partner agree on the debt and property division
- You and your partner sign the court papers and attend the final hearing
If you or your partner don’t meet any of the requirements, you don’t qualify for a simplified dissolution procedure. The process will take a bit longer to finalize and will be costlier.
Note that a simplified dissolution of marriage does not mean you won’t have to appear in court before a judge.
8. You will keep all your non-marital property and divide marital property
Both you and our soon to be ex keeps may keep non-marital property such as property acquired before the marriage, property acquired via non-spousal gift or inheritance, etc. The rest of the property is divided between you and your partner based on each party’s contribution to the marriage, economic circumstances, contribution to the acquisition, etc.
9. It’s not free
To begin the process, you must pay $409 to the court clerk so they can accept your petition for dissolution of marriage and open a court case. Apart from that, there is a fee for the process server. If you decide to hire an attorney (which you should for the reasons discussed below), you will have to pay them a retainer and hourly bill, depending on your agreement.
10. You need the help of an experienced Miami-Dade County attorney
You can arrange a divorce in various ways, the main ones being: doing it yourself, using a mediator, using unbundled legal services (working with a lawyer on some aspects and handling the rest independently), or working with an experienced Miami divorce attorney.
But divorce can be complex, whether contested or uncontested. There are far too many important things to consider for the process to run successfully, so it is helpful to have someone who has handled tens or hundreds of similar situations on your corner to guide you. Some of the benefits of working with an experienced Miami divorce attorney include the following:
- They help you avoid mistakes due to divorce stress and the legal system complexity.
- Avoiding delays by providing adequate information and completing all forms and paperwork.
- A divorce can take over every aspect of your life. An attorney can handle everything for you as you focus on rebuilding your life.
- They can advise you on handling the process and any issues that arise.
- An objective perspective because attorneys are not emotionally invested.
- If it’s a messy divorce, they can help you communicate with your spouse without it ending in a screaming match.
A Miami-Dade County divorce attorney will protect your rights and ensure the process runs smoothly.
Hire a divorce attorney to simplify the divorce process
The above ten tips should clarify or give you an idea of the general direction your divorce will take. You know the requirements you are supposed to meet, a few Florida divorce rules, how to start and continue with the process, and what you need to fasten the process and increase its chances of going your way.
While a DIY divorce could work, it is not viable in all situations. What may seem like a simple divorce could be very complex, requiring lots of paperwork and processes. That is why you need to work with a Miami divorce attorney, whether it seems simple or complicated.
If you want to learn more about how a divorce attorney can help you, contact the Miami family law attorneys for a consultation.