How to File for Divorce in Pinellas County
Divorce is a legal action filed by a married individual or couple to end the marriage. There are two types of divorce proceedings available in Florida: simplified and general. As its name indicates, a simplified divorce offers the parties a simpler and less costly procedure. This simplified procedure requires certain conditions.
Whether the parties intend to file for simplified divorce or one of them will file a petition for general divorce, one of the first matters to think about when considering filing for divorce is where the petition should be filed. The Florida Statutes indicate that to be able to obtain a dissolution of marriage in the state, one of the parties must have resided in the state for the six months prior to making the filing.
Within the state, the court that has jurisdiction is the family court with a seat in the county where the couple last resided together or where one of the parties resides. The petition should be filed with the county clerk. In Pinellas County, the county clerk receives petitions for dissolution of marriage at three locations.
A simplified dissolution begins with both parties, after confirming that they comply with the requirements, approaching the county clerk either directly or through an attorney to file the petition.
For a regular or general dissolution, the petitioner files the petition, within which must be allegations that the marriage is inevitably broken and that the differences between the parties can not be remedied to save the marriage. The petition must also include any other relevant requests to the court such as spousal support, child custody, and child support. Once served with the petition, the respondent then has 20 days to file an answer. The answer must address each of the matters set forth in the petition and can include a counter petition for the dissolution of marriage bringing up any additional requests by the responding party.
Parties to a dissolution of marriage petition are required to disclose financial information and documentation, and to complete a financial affidavit to the other party within 45 days of the service of the petition or before any scheduled hearing date. Failing to do so may result in the dismissal of the case or of certain requests by the non-compliant party.
Following the disclosure, the parties may engage in mediation to attempt reaching a resolution of any differences regarding not only the dissolution of the marriage but also other accompanying matters such as alimony, child custody and support. Once and if an agreement is reached, the parties formalize their agreement in a settlement document that then is brought to court for issuance of the final judgment on dissolution. If no agreement is reached, then a date is set for a final hearing on any contested matters where both parties will make their arguments and the competent judge decides.
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Navigating a divorce and its jurisdictional and other accompanying issues can be a complicated and daunting process. A family law attorney can assist in defending your best interests throughout the process. If you have any questions or need assistance in a divorce proceeding or any other related matter, contact the skilled Clearwater divorce lawyers at Cairns Law today.