That party must then file a written answer with the court.
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Forms for dissolution of marriage proceedings are available, and many courts have self-help units to assist people without lawyers in finding those forms. There are specialized rules for procedure dealing with family courts, which are available at public libraries and law schools.
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Those rules require each party to provide the other with financial information within a certain number of days of the beginning of a case. Except in cases involving domestic violence, most courts will also require all couples to attend mediation sessions - which are conferences with the assistance of a trained person who try to help couples achieve a settlement between themselves.
If children are involved, all parties will be required to attend parenting classes, details of which are provided when the divorce action is filed. Some courts require the child to attend special classes as well.
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Divorce proceedings are public proceedings, and the files are available at the courthouse for public review. Under certain limited circumstances, portions of the file may be sealed by order of the court. While a divorce is pending, a trial judge may enter orders dealing with support, possession or maintenance of any individual asset, where the child or children will live, the time the child or children will spend with each parent, and attorney's fees and costs.
At least one of the people involved must have lived in Florida for the last six months, and both parties must agree fully to the terms of the divorce and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
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This process also eliminates both parties' rights to a trial and appeals. The first step is to make sure your marriage qualifies for divorce in Florida.
The state is one of many that has removed fault as a necessary grounds for divorce. Instead, it must only be proved that the marriage is "irretrievably broken," though fault can still be used in the division of assets and assigning alimony if the divorce goes to court.
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In such a case, however, attorneys will need to be involved to guide you through the legal process. To keep attorneys and their fees from entering into the proceedings, both parties will have to agree the marriage is broken and cannot be fixed. There must also be proof that the marriage actually exists to begin with, and that at least one party has lived in Florida for the past six months.
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Once the two sides have agreed to the divorce, paperwork must be filled out. The forms can be tricky, and once they are entered into court they cannot be altered. These professionals cannot bind you or your spouse to an agreement, but they can offer advice and solutions which can eliminate the need for a trial. In most cases, mediation may be had for a fraction of the cost of attorneys.
If you and your spouse are unable to reach a binding, written agreement, you will have to go to trial.
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In that case, you will almost certainly need to hire a divorce attorney who has experience in litigation. Although the actual trial may only last a few hours or days, there may be months of discovery and trial preparation which can run the cost of the divorce into the tens of thousands of dollars. The thorniest issues in most divorces involve property distribution, spousal support and child custody. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on all of these issues, it is in your best interests to do so. Most judges will consider the station of each spouse and their contributions to the marriage.
In dividing assets, a judge will distinguish between marital and non-marital property. This is often distinguished by the following criteria:. In Florida, there is often a presumption that property acquired during the marriage is considered marital. During the divorce, you and your spouse may agree to a value for each asset, or the judge may assign a value.
The judge may then split the property among the parties, or, if the property cannot be divided, they may award the property to one party and an equitable financial compensation to the other. Florida has instituted some progressive laws regarding child custody. These laws encapsulate the following two objectives:.
Florida courts will try to award joint custody unless there is clear evidence of parental incapacity, e.