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The Difference Between Simplified and Regular Dissolution of Marriage Proceedings: Part 1 of 2

In the state of Florida, there are two ways to dissolve a marriage: simplified dissolution and regular dissolution. Any couple can file for regular dissolution. However, there are certain couples who meet special requirements under Florida law that may prefer to proceed with simplified dissolution proceedings. First, an understanding of the requirements for each type of dissolution is necessary. This is the first in a two part series that discusses the requirements for simplified dissolution and the procedure for regular dissolution, which will be followed by further discussion of the differences between the two.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

While a simplified dissolution does not require an attorney in the state of Florida, an attorney can still be helpful in filing for a divorce under the simplified procedure. This is because the parties still bear the burden of filing all the documents that are required, they must be filed correctly, and other procedures are required to be met. A qualified divorce attorney can make sure these legal requirements are met. Because of the nature of a simplified dissolution, attorney’s fees are typically significantly less than the fees for a regular dissolution.

Requirements for Eligibility for Simplified Dissolution

To qualify for a simplified dissolution in the state of Florida, all of the following requirements must be met:

  • Both parties must agree to proceed with a simplified dissolution;
  • There must be no dependent children;
  • There must be no children (biological or adopted) under the age of 18;
  • Neither party can be pregnant;
  • At least one of the parties must have lived in Florida for at least the past six months;
  • The parties must be in agreement as to the division of all assets and debts from the marriage;
  • Neither party can be requesting alimony; and
  • Both parties must agree that their marriage has been “irretrievably broken.”

Regular Dissolution of Marriage

In a regular dissolution of marriage, one party, known as the “petitioner” must file a petition for dissolution of marriage. The petitioner declares the marriage is irretrievably broken and details the issues the court should address, including division of assets and debts, parenting time, alimony, etc. The other party, known as the “respondent” must then file an answer within 20 days, responding to the original petition and, if desired, counter petition the court regarding marital dissolution issues. Financial documents must be provided, and each party must submit a financial affidavit to the other party. A child support guidelines worksheet must also be filed with the court when there is a minor child. During a regular dissolution, it is possible, depending on the county the case is filed in, that the parties will be required to participate in mediation in an attempt to resolve the issues.

If You are Considering a Divorce

Whether you file a for a regular dissolution or a simplified dissolution will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. Careful consideration of how to proceed will allow you to choose what is best for you and your family. Contact Fort Lauderdale family law attorney Sandra Bonfiglio to discuss your case.

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