Just about everyone going through a divorce can agree on one thing: they want the process to be over as quickly as possible. This desire is what leads many people to explore their options for a Simplified Divorce, which can speed up the process (and decrease the associated costs).
While a Simplified Divorce might be a good option for couples looking to quickly dissolve their marriage, it’s not right for everyone.
Let’s look at what a Simplified Divorce is and whether or not it might be right for you.
What Is a Simplified Divorce?
A Simplified Divorce, also known as a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, is an expedited process that couples can go through to get a divorce in Florida. As its name implies, it is a simplified process that requires less litigation than a standard divorce process. The couple creates their own separation agreement and files it with the court. A Simplified Divorce is set up so couples can do it on their own, without the help of an attorney, but an attorney can (and often does) assist with the process.
A Simplified Divorce is not an option for all couples. You must meet specific criteria to be eligible for a Simplified Divorce.
To be eligible for a Simplified Divorce:
- You and your spouse must agree that the marriage cannot be saved.
- You and/or your spouse must have lived in Florida for at least six months.
- You and your spouse must not have minor children.
- You and your spouse must not be pregnant.
- You and your spouse have already agreed on how you split your assets and liabilities.
- You and your spouse must not be seeking alimony.
- You and your spouse agree that each will not receive any portion of the other’s pension.
- You and your spouse agree that there will be no legal ramifications if one or both sides of the party don’t meet the terms of your agreement.
- You and your spouse are willing to give up your right to a trial and appeal.
- You and your spouse are willing to sign the petition in the clerk’s office. (This can be done separately.)
- You and your spouse are willing to go to the final hearing at the same time. (You both must attend.)
If you are ready to file for divorce in Florida and do not meet all of the criteria, you are not eligible for a Simplified Divorce. You must file a standard petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
If you meet all of the criteria and are considering pursuing a Simplified Divorce, here are a few pros and cons to consider.
Pros of a Simplified Divorce
It is less expensive. A Simplified Divorce is usually less expensive than a standard divorce because it takes less time and resources to file. You will still need to pay the filing fee. The cost to file a Dissolution of Marriage is $408 in most Florida counties. (If you can’t afford the fee, you can file an Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status to have your fees waived.) But, you will have fewer costs as they relate to attorneys fees, mediation expenses, and additional court fees.
Related: How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Florida?
It can be less stressful. Because a Simplified Divorce involves fewer steps, it can be less stressful for both parties. Instead of having multiple meetings with attorneys and spending time in mediation or courtrooms, both parties only spend limited time dealing with the agreement and filing. Even if an attorney is involved, there are typically less meetings than in a standard divorce.
There is less information released publicly. Court proceedings are often available to the public, which means the information may be accessible. Because there is less information and financial disclosures required with a Simplified Divorce, there will be less public information available about the terms of your divorce.
Cons of a Simplified Divorce
Unbalanced power dynamics can lead to an unfair agreement. A Simplified Divorce leaves it up to the couple to decide how to split their assets and liabilities. In cases where one party may have more power or control over the other party, this can lead to an unfair agreement. A standard divorce gives each party the support they need to get what is fair and due to them.
You lose legal protection if your agreement is broken. When you agree to a Simplified Divorce, you are relying on the other party to hold up their part of the agreement. You give up your right to a trial and appeal, and you acknowledge that if one party defaults in the agreement, there will be no legal ramifications. In a more traditional divorce filing, each party is bound by the court to uphold their part of the agreement.
You’re responsible for proper filing. While the court system does its best to help couples go through a Simplified Divorce on their own, the process can still be tedious and complicated. You are responsible for accurately and appropriately finding and completing the correct Florida Family Law Forms. To avoid improper filing, many couples hire an attorney to help them complete the paperwork and properly manage the process.
Related: How to Prepare for Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney
Talk to a Divorce Attorney About Your Options
Couples who are about to go through a divorce want it to be as quick and easy as possible. For many couples, a Simplified Divorce might be the solution they need. But, the extra time and resources spent working with an experienced divorce attorney to go through the standard divorce process is usually worth it.
You get a dedicated attorney who will fight for you and ensure that you get a fair settlement that can be upheld in court.
Don’t worry about filling out paperwork incorrectly or making mistakes that leave you without a fair settlement. If you are thinking about filing for divorce, learn about your options with a free consultation with TJ Grimaldi. Get expert advice about your options and see what is best for your interests.
Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.
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