What Papers Do I Need to File to Begin Divorce Proceedings?

Have you made the important decision to proceed with a divorce? A difficult and life-altering decision in and of itself, the road ahead can seem overwhelming. You may not even know where to begin. Here, we will go through some of the preliminary things you need to address at the beginning of divorce proceedings. Sometimes, getting started can be the most difficult part. We are here to help.

What Papers Do I Need to File to Begin Divorce Proceedings?

Divorce proceedings are initiated by one spouse, the “petitioner,” by filing the “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The other spouse will become the “respondent” in the action. The Petition sets forth the issues of the divorce that you want to and need to be addressed by the court. Issues incident to divorce include division of assets and debts, as well as child custody, child support, and spousal support. Should you and your spouse agree on division of the marital property and debt, neither of you are seeking spousal support, and you do not have any children under the age of 18, you may be able to file a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage Petition.” Alternately, you may be able to go ahead and submit a settlement agreement to expedite the divorce process.

In addition to completing and filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, a summons must also be completed and filed with the Petition. Check with your county to see if there are other required forms to file. Please note that the forms you use will vary based on your individual circumstances, such as whether you have children. Furthermore, you should be sure to verify that you are, in fact, eligible to file for divorce in Florida. Do you or your spouse satisfy the requirement that at least one of you have lived in Florida for a minimum of six months prior to filing? 

Be sure to wait and sign your petition and paperwork until you are in front of a notary as it is required that your petition be notarized prior to filing. There are often notary services available at a courthouse for a minimal fee. You will submit your signed and notarized petition and filing fee, or request for fee waiver, to the clerk of court. Service of process will need to occur. Your spouse may have accepted service and provided an “Answer and Waiver of Service” to be filed with the court. Should your spouse fail to do so, there are other ways of accomplishing service, such as having a local sheriff hand deliver the divorce petition to your spouse.

In addition to the petition, you will also need a significant amount of financial information and documentation to complete the financial affidavit. This usually needs to be completed and provided to your spouse within 45 days of the date of service. The financial affidavit should be completed in full and documentation regarding your income, assets, debts, financial accounts, and more should be provided along with it.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

As you prepare for your divorce journey ahead, the dedicated family law attorneys at Orlando Family Team are here to provide you with unwavering legal support. We are with you throughout the entire process, protecting your best interests every step of the way. Contact us today.