When you are ready to end your marriage, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of taking legal steps to separate. Understanding what to expect from the divorce process can help you overcome your anxiety and fear.

Either spouse can file for divorce in Florida for any reason, as long as he or she has resided in the state for at least six months. These are the necessary steps to end a marriage when one or both spouses lives in Florida.

Simplified dissolution of marriage

Couples who want to streamline the divorce can apply for a simplified dissolution of marriage. While both parties can request financial disclosure in this type of divorce, disclosure is not mandatory (unlike with a standard dissolution of marriage). You may be eligible for this process if the following are true:

  • You and your spouse have no minor children together, including unborn children.
  • Both parties agree on division of assets and debts.
  • Neither party will ask for alimony.

Regular dissolution of marriage

With this process, either party can request a divorce by submitting a petition that outlines his or her preferred division of property, spousal support and child custody if applicable. The other party will receive notice from the court and has 20 days to respond with his or her own petition. In addition, both parties have 45 days to provide required financial disclosures.

When spouses do not agree on one or more major issues in the divorce, the court may order mediation to assist them in reaching an agreement. If mediation and other measures are unsuccessful, the court decides these issues at a final hearing at which both spouses may present evidence.

The judge will use established legal guidelines to create a final divorce order. Florida requires equitable division of assets and debts in a divorce. Parenting plans center on the arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. The court may grant spousal support depending on the length of the marriage, each partner’s income and projected future income, current standards of living and other factors.