An uncontested divorce in Florida is typically a simpler and less contentious process compared to a contested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on the key issues, which can help streamline the legal proceedings. Here's what is generally included in an uncontested divorce in Florida:
1. **Petition for Divorce (Dissolution of Marriage):** The process starts with one spouse filing a Petition for Divorce with the court. This document outlines the basic information about the marriage, such as names, addresses, and grounds for divorce (Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that no specific fault is required).
2. **Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA):** In an uncontested divorce, the spouses create a Marital Settlement Agreement that details how they will divide their assets and debts, address alimony (if applicable), and establish child custody, visitation, and child support arrangements (if there are children involved). The MSA must be signed by both spouses.
3. **Parenting Plan:** If the divorcing couple has children under the age of 18, they must also create a Parenting Plan that outlines how parental responsibilities and time-sharing will be allocated. This plan should address issues like where the children will live, visitation schedules, and decision-making authority.
4. **Financial Affidavits:** Each spouse typically submits a Financial Affidavit to the court, disclosing their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. This information helps the court ensure that the division of assets and determination of support (if applicable) is fair.
5. **Filing the Documents:** Both spouses must file the necessary divorce documents, including the Petition for Divorce, Marital Settlement Agreement, Parenting Plan (if applicable), and Financial Affidavits, with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where one of the spouses resides.
6. **Final Hearing:** If everything is in order and there are no disputes, the court may schedule a brief final hearing. In many uncontested cases, this hearing can be relatively simple and may involve answering basic questions to ensure both parties understand and agree to the terms of the divorce.
7. **Final Judgment:** Once the court is satisfied that all requirements have been met, it will issue a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This document legally terminates the marriage and incorporates the terms of the Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan (if applicable).
It's essential to note that while uncontested divorces are generally less adversarial, it's still advisable for each spouse to consult with an attorney to ensure their rights and interests are protected. Even in uncontested cases, seeking legal advice can help clarify legal rights and responsibilities and ensure that all necessary documents are properly prepared and filed. Additionally, the specific requirements and procedures may vary by county in Florida, so consulting with a local attorney is advisable.