29 Apr What is a Simplified Petition for Divorce?
The end of a marriage is always a stressful time for all parties involved. When proceedings turn into nasty custody battles or property disputes, the end of a marriage can become even more difficult. Thankfully, when both spouses are willing to cooperate and coordinate with one another, ending a marriage can become much easier. In such cases, each spouse may fill out a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
Normally, the end of a marriage could end up costing you a lot of time, money and frustration. With this simplified process, however, you will be saved the pressure of complicated divorce paper serving procedures and support request filings. While this form and expedited process are no doubt appealing to most people, it is not available to everyone. Both you and your spouse must match a set list of criteria in order to qualify for a simplified dissolution of marriage.
It should be noted that this article focuses on the qualifications of filing a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage in the state of Florida. While the procedures are very similar, with very few major differences from state to state, you should always check out state specific regulations before applying. Sitting down with a local family law attorney should help you clear up any confusions of questions you may have.
Simplified Petition for Divorce Quirks
Many of the criteria required must come down to mutual agreements between spouses. For example, both you and your spouse must agree that your marriage is beyond saving. Additionally, you must both be willing to go to a final hearing at the same time on the same day. These agreements become necessary because they help ensure that the separation process will be simple and short enough to justify the allowed use of a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. When filling out the petition, you and your spouse are both sacrificing your right to a formal trial and appeal. Finally, both of you must also be willing to visit the county clerk’s office to sign the petition in the time that is allotted to you. However, you and your spouse are not required to sign the petition at the exact time, or even on the same day.
Disqualification from Simplified Divorce
Unfortunately, if a couple has children together, they are unable to qualify for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. For all spouses filing the petition, they must have no minor or dependent children. Additionally, even if you and your spouse have no children together, neither of you can have any from another marriage. Finally, if your wife is pregnant at the time of your separation, you are also disqualified from filing a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.
Assets and Alimony in Simplified Divorces
The separation of assets, whether it is real estate or earnings, is often the most complicated aspect of divorce and separation trials. Because of this, you and your spouse are required to have all plans for asset separation figured out before filing for a simplified dissolution. Neither you nor your spouse must be seeking alimony in order to qualify. Presenting your plan for how the two of you will divide your assets and who will pay each other liabilities will be required. Additionally, you must be able to show that both of you are satisfied with the separation of assets plan that is being represented.
Every piece of criteria listed above is essential to your ability to qualify for a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. If you do not meet even a single one of these qualifications, you must instead file a Regular Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. Sitting down with a family law attorney can be useful if you are confused about whether or not you actually meet the required qualifications.
The Simplified Divorce Process
Once your attorney has determined that you qualify for the Simplified Divorce process, and you have agreed this is the best route toward legal separation, you will be ready to begin the actual filing process. When filing a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, there steps that you must take in order to ensure that it is legally binding.
1. Preparation of Paperwork
First, we prepare the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, a Marital Settlement Agreement and a few other documents that are required for the process.
2. You Must Prove your Florida Residence
This is the easiest step you will have to complete. Simply make sure that you bring a valid ID to the Final Hearing. Identification must prove that you have been a resident of Florida (or any other state you may be in) for the last six months. If you do not have this, you may also present the testimony of another resident who can legally testify in court that you have been a resident for six months. Finally, you can present any affidavit that shows you have been a legal resident of Florida for the required amount of time.
3. Filing Fees Must be Paid
There are several filing fees that must be paid to the circuit court clerk’s office in order to legally file a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. These fees are reasonable and much cheaper than the constant court you and your spouse would gain from a traditional divorce. In the case that either of you are unable to afford these court fees, you may file an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status along with your Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage form. Your attorney can supply these forms to you.
4. Final Hearing
After all forms have been filled out, and proper paperwork between the attorneys has been exchanged and filed with the Family court, you and your spouse must attend the final court hearing, where you will appear before a judge.
At this hearing, the judge will look over every form and agreement made during the process. If everything is in order, the judge will grant you and your spouse a final judgement dissolving your marriage, thereby granting your Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. Once the judge has signed this final judgment, you and your spouse will be officially divorced in the eyes of the law.
Keeping your divorce from your spouse as simplified as possible helps to ensure the easiest possible route towards your next step in life. This petition has helped many citizens avoid unnecessary court fees and legal gymnastics when seeking a mutual legal separation. If you and your spouse have decided that it is time to divorce, and you qualify – a Simplified Petition for Divorce is likely your best legal option.