Serving Divorce Papers: The Process - Aaron Delgado & Associates

Serving Divorce Papers: The Process

by Aaron Delgado
01/21/22 (Updated: 04/01/22)

Going through a divorce can be a stressful process; however, there are ways to make the process easier. One of the ways to do so is to put the correct information on your Florida divorce papers and serve them correctly. Because it can be difficult to navigate the process, it is always helpful to work with a family law attorney who has experience dealing with divorces.

What goes in your divorce papers, and what does it mean to serve them to someone else? If you want to go through the process as quickly and cheaply as possible, you need to serve your papers correctly to shorten the timeline of a Florida divorce.

Ensure You Qualify For a Florida Divorce

Before you go through the trouble of putting together your Florida divorce papers, you need to make sure you have met all requirements to qualify for a divorce. Either you or your spouse must have lived in the state of Florida for at least six months before you file for your divorce. Then, you need to provide proof that you meet the residency requirements. There are a few ways you can do this. They include:

  • You can provide a copy of your voter registration card, ID card, or Florida driver's license.
  • You can submit a signed and notarized form from someone who will swear that they have knowledge that you have lived in Florida for a certain amount of time.

If you cannot produce either of these documents, you will need to have a witness come to your divorce hearing and testify about your residency in the state before a court of law.

If you meet these requirements, then you should be able to file for a Florida divorce.

Prepare the Papers Properly

The next step is to prepare your Florida divorce papers. As you fill out the basic forms, you need to figure out which type of divorce you are filing for. A few key points you need to keep in mind include:

  • The easiest type of divorce is a simplified dissolution of marriage. In this situation, both spouses are responsible for filling out the forms. Then, they sign them together at the office of the Florida clerk of court. If nothing is being contested, and you don't have children, you may qualify for this type of divorce.
  • If you are going through the regular divorce process, one spouse is going to prepare the forms. He or she will be the petitioner. Then, the other spouse will be the respondent, and will be responsible for responding to the divorce papers.
  • If you have debt or marital property that you need to divide, there is a special form you will need to fill out. If you have children who are dependent on both of you, you will need to fill out a separate form for your children as well.
  • Finally, you need to decide whether you are proceeding with a contested or uncontested divorce. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on how to divide everything, then you may qualify for an uncontested divorce. If you cannot come to an agreement, then you will be filing for a contested divorce.

There may be added paperwork depending on the county in which you live. Therefore, you may want to reach out to the Circuit Clerk of Court to figure out if there are additional papers you need to file.

What Goes in Your Divorce Papers?

Once you have figured out what type of divorce you are moving forward with, it is time to fill out your forms. So, what goes in your divorce papers? A few examples of items you need to include are:

  • You need to specify why you are asking for a divorce. Florida is a no-fault state. Therefore, you cannot claim a legal ground for divorce. Instead, you will typically say that your marriage is irretrievably broken.
  • You may be asked to list all of your assets and debts.
  • You will also need to include all of your children and their ages.
  • If there is anything you and your spouse have agreed to in advance, you need to include those provisions.
  • If there are any issues that are still outstanding, you need to list those as well.
  • If there is any request for alimony or child support, you should include that in the divorce papers as well.

After you are finished filling out your forms, you need to file the paperwork with the circuit clerk of court. You may also be required to get your petition notarized, so try to wait until you get to the courthouse before you sign them. You may have to pay a fee to use the notary service.

How Do You Serve Them?

If you are going through the simplified dissolution process, you do not need to serve the papers at all, as both spouses will fill out the forms together. If you are not going through the simplified dissolution process, you will need to serve papers to your spouse.

There are a few ways you can do this. They include:

  • Your spouse can accept service ahead of time by filling out a notarized “answer and waiver of service” form.
  • If your spouse did not fill out the form, the sheriff's office will usually serve the papers to your spouse.
  • Depending on the county in which you live, there might be other options available. For example, if your spouse is in the military or incarcerated, you may have to go through a separate process.

Always check with your Clerk of Court to see what your options are.

What Happens Next?

After the process is done, your spouse will have to respond to the papers. Or, if you are going through the simplified dissolution process, your spouse will not have to respond to anything because you will have filled out the forms together. It may take some time for your spouse to respond, which is why you should have a lawyer who can walk you through the process from start to finish. That is where we can help you.

Work With Aaron Delgado and Associates for Your Florida Divorce

At Aaron Delgado and Associates, we are here to walk you through this process of getting your Florida divorce. We understand that you have questions about the process, and we are here to represent your rights. Before you start filling out your divorce papers, make sure you give us a call. We can streamline the process for you and make sure you protect your interests as the process unfolds.

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