For couples who qualify, this can be a much quicker and simpler way to separate.
Now, simple dissolution of marriage isn’t necessarily the best option – or even a possibility – for many couples. Among other things, both spouses surrender their right to alimony payments when they file for this procedure. They also surrender their right to trial and appeal over the divorce.
Despite these potential downsides, a simplified dissolution of a marriage may be the right choice for couples who meet the criteria and wish to part ways as soon as possible. So, how do you know if you qualify?
Do We Qualify for Simple Dissolution of Marriage?
Florida law allows couples to apply for this expedited process if they meet a certain list of requirements. In general, this option is best for ending short, childless marriages where the divorcing spouses are cooperating and relatively amicable.
To qualify for simple dissolution of marriage, a couple must meet all of the following criteria:
- At least one of the spouses has lived in Florida for the six months before the divorce is filed
- Both spouses agree the marriage cannot be repaired
- There are no minor (under 18) or dependent children from the marriage
- If there is a wife, she is not pregnant
- Neither spouse is seeking alimony payments from the other
- Both spouses have filed financial affidavits (written disclosures of financial information) with the court or they agree that they don’t need financial affidavits
- There is agreement about the division of assets, debt, and other property
- Both spouses agree to the undertake the procedure, which requires surrendering their right to a trial and appeal
Let’s take a closer look at one of the most potentially contentious requirements: property division.
As mentioned above, to qualify for a simplified divorce, a couple must be in agreement over how to divide the property of the marriage. A form detailing the division of any assets must be submitted to the courts for approval. If there is any disagreement over who gets what after the divorce, the couple will not be able to qualify for this option.
In this form, you and your spouse list the property – and value of the property – that each spouse will receive after the divorce. This might include money held in bank accounts, life insurance benefits, retirement plans, stocks, real estate and vehicles. This agreement must be signed in the presence of a notary.
It’s important to note that this martial agreement will not automatically transfer a title from one spouse to the other. If one spouse intends to transfer an asset with the title in his or her name, they will have to obtain the deed to that property. Nor does this agreement transfer any debts that may be in the name of one spouse.
Filing for Simplified Divorce
If you meet all of the above requirements and decide to go through with a simplified divorce, the proper forms must be submitted with your local clerk of the court. Either one of the spouses can fill out a form called a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, which can be found online or your county court.
Both spouses, however, must go to the clerk’s office in order to file, and in some counties they are required to go together. You can contact the county clerk’s office for information about the requirements for filing in your county.
A witness will also need to corroborate your residency. As stated above, to qualify for simplified dissolution of marriage in Florida, at least one of the spouses must have lived in Florida for a minimum of six months. Your witness must accompany you to the clerk’s office and bring a photo ID. Alternatively, a notarized certificate from the witness may also be acceptable.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Though there are resources to help couples file for a simple divorce, a skilled family law attorney can be an invaluable resource to divorcing couples. In this situation, your attorney can help speed up the process, allowing for an even quicker and less stressful dissolution of your marriage. If forms are filled out or filed incorrectly, this can cause significant delays in the procedure. Your attorney can also mediate the division of property, and offer counsel as to whether this is the best option for you.
If you or your spouse is considering a divorce, it is in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable family law attorney as soon as possible. Doing so can help protect your property and your rights in this critical time in your life.