Dissolution of a marriage is never an easy thing emotionally, mentally, or even physically. Legally, too, a divorce can be overwhelming and can get complicated. At Veliz Katz Law, we strive to make the divorce process in Florida as smooth-going and the least traumatizing as possible. We will guide you, listen to you, advise you, and advocate on your behalf.
Below is an overview of the divorce process in Orlando. After reviewing it, if you have questions or want to take the next step in the divorce process, contact us at 407-849-7072 to get honest answers and compassionate legal representation.
Qualifying for a Divorce in Orlando, Florida
To seek a divorce in Florida, you must first be able to fulfill a residency requirement as outlined in Florida Stat. § 61.021. This law requires that either you, your spouse, or both spouses reside in Florida for at least six months before filing for divorce. If you fall under the 6-month requirement, a Florida circuit court will not have jurisdiction over your divorce.
Residency is established according to two basic factors:
- you were actually and physically present in Florida; and
- you had the intention to make Florida your primary residence.
Staying with a friend for six months and not obtaining a Florida driver's license will not fulfill the residency requirement. To prove residency, you can provide any of the following and more as testimony of your physical presence and intent to make Florida your home:
- a Florida state driver's license;
- a Florida voter's registration card;
- a valid Florida identification card;
- acceptance of a permanent job;
- lease or mortgage;
- copies of state taxes in Florida.
That said, residency is usually not an issue unless one of the parties moved out of Florida already or intends to do so.
Once residency is established, you can begin the divorce process. You do not need a reason for a divorce in Florida because it is a no-fault state. This simply means that the marriage was irretrievably broken or one of the spouses is allegedly mentally incapacitated. When a claim of mental incapacity is invoked, an adjudication determining the same must have been made for a minimum of three years.
With the residency requirement fulfilled and the marriage irretrievably broken, you can begin the divorce process.
Understanding the Florida Divorce Process in Orlando
The divorce process can be pretty straightforward and easy if, for example:
- the divorce is uncontested;
- there are minimal if any assets to be divided; and
- there are no children.
It becomes more complex when challenges are made, there are significant assets and debt, and there are children involved. Here, we provide a basic overview of the most common steps taken during a divorce – just keep in mind each case is different and an Orlando divorce process will reflect those differences.
Filing a Petition at the Orange County Circuit Court
If you live in the Orlando metropolitan area, then you will likely file for dissolution of your marriage at:
Orange County Circuit Court
425 North Orange Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
Phone: 407-836-2000 (Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm)
Typically, one spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage and serves the other spouse the papers. The spouse who files for divorce is known as the petitioner.
Filing an Answer at the Orange County Circuit Court
Once the other spouse receives the petition, from the date he or she was served the "divorce papers," he or she has 20 days to file an answer. This spouse is known as the respondent.
In the answer, the spouse must advise the court:
- what is agreed upon or admitted as true;
- what is disagreed upon or denied as true; and/or
- what he or she has no knowledge of.
The respondent may also file a counter-petition for dissolution of marriage to raise additional issues with the court. The petitioner must respond to the counter-petition providing the court with information that the petitioner agrees, disagrees, or does not know about some aspect of the counter-petition.
Once the petition and answer are filed, there is still more to be provided to the court. For example, you must file the following:
- a financial affidavit 45 days after the petition was served;
- if you have a child, a child support guidelines worksheet before a child support hearing;
- if you have a minor child, a completed Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) affidavit – this is required even if you and your spouse agree on time-sharing.
In addition to the above filings, further information must be shared, and much of this is related to financial disclosures. Both you and your spouse have a right under Florida law to know about each other's finances, including debt. During discovery, both parties must share this information. Examples of documents that may be requested include:
- tax returns
- proof of income
- credit cards
- bank account
- retirement accounts
- proof of debt.
If there are disputes about any aspect of the divorce, you may first be required to participate in mediation. Mediation is meant to help spouses come to an agreement on their own without the interference of a judge.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, however, you will not be required to attend mediation.
Both parents typically share the rights and responsibilities of parenting and this is to be laid out in a parenting plan. Parenting plans and time-sharing were formerly referred to as child custody and visitation. You will file a parenting plan either with your spouse or separately (i.e., both of you file your own parenting plan).
If you and your spouse do not agree, the court will review both parenting plans and – in consideration of the best interests of the child – order a parenting plan.
Trial is more appropriately referred to as a contested final hearing. If issues remain that you and your spouse could not agree on, the judge and not a jury will hear both sides.
Like a trial, you can present evidence, including witnesses. The other party can cross-examine any witnesses.
After the hearing, the judge will enter a final judgment of dissolution of marriage.
To note, if you were able to agree on all aspects of the divorce, a settlement agreement will be filed prior to a contested final hearing, the latter of which will no longer be required.
Resolving Other Divorce Matters in Orlando, Florida
During the divorce, dissolution of the marriage is not the only matter. Things like:
- division of property
- parenting plan
- child custody
- child support
- attorney's fees
are all matters that must be resolved, too – where applicable. At Veliz Katz Law, we will help you resolve these matters while upholding your interests and rights.
Contact Experienced Divorce Attorneys in Orlando Today
Get the guidance, advice, and support you need for your divorce: contact experienced Orlando divorce attorneys of Veliz Katz Law today. You can reach us online or at 407-849-7072 to schedule a consultation.