Thanks to everything from popular television shows and films to the experiences of family members and friends, most people have certain preconceived notions about the divorce process. Namely, they automatically anticipate that it will be hostile, prolonged, costly and emotionally exhausting for all parties.
The reality is that while divorce does frequently unfold in this manner, there are still many couples who not only want to end their divorce as quickly and peacefully as possible, but who are also able to agree on all of the important divorce-related issues from alimony to property division.
In recognition of this reality, Florida law actually enables spouses in these situations to pursue what is known as a simplified dissolution of marriage.
Understanding simplified dissolution of marriage
In general, simplified dissolution of marriage -- or uncontested divorce -- involves a soon-to-be-former couple completing and filing various legal documents with the court, and a single appearance before a judge once the final dissolution is granted.
In other words, there are no settlement negotiations or trial, no testimony and no discovery process.
Outside of expediting the divorce process and saving a couple both aggravation and expense, simplified dissolution of marriage can help ensure that communications between the soon-to-be former spouses remains amicable.
Qualifying for simplified dissolution of marriage
While the idea of pursuing a simplified dissolution of marriage may sound highly appealing, couples mulling this type of split should understand that Florida law has actually set forth certain eligibility requirements.
In other words, failure to meet any of the following eligibility requirements means couples are unable to pursue this option:
- One spouse has lived in Florida for the six months preceding the divorce.
- Both spouses agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that simplified dissolution is their preferred form of legal proceeding.
- There are no minor, adopted or dependent children, and the spouses are not expecting.
- Neither spouse is requesting alimony, while agreements have been reached concerning the division of property and debts.
Knowing if simplified dissolution of marriage is right
It's important to understand that while divorcing couples can attempt to navigate the simplified dissolution of marriage process on their own, it can prove to be inherently more complex than they imagined given the multitude of forms, filing deadlines, legal issues to address and other considerations.
For this reason, experts indicate that couples should seriously consider retaining the services of a skilled legal professional who is able to ensure that all matters are handled properly. This simple step, they argue, will enable couples to start the next chapter in their lives as soon as possible, confident in the knowledge that everything was done correctly.
Experts also indicate that even those couples with doubts about whether the simplified dissolution of marriage is right for them should still consider meeting with a skilled legal professional, as he or she can answer their questions and explain the law. Indeed, if it appears that the couple will be unable to pursue this particular route for one reason or another, they can learn more about their options going forward.