What are the First Documents Filed in a Florida Divorce?

Petition for divorce

When entering a divorce, the process is one that many have never experienced firsthand. Therefore, with uncharted territory and heightened emotions, people seek a significant amount of guidance and information to maintain a sense of control and understanding of the procedures. One of the first questions asked by clients is what is needed from them. The answer to this question can be exhaustive. Therefore, your attorney has provided you with a concise list and explanation of the initial documents that will be filed on both sides of your case.

In every divorce proceeding, the very first document that is filed with the court is the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The spouse who completes this document and files it with the court is known as the petitioner. This document initiates the divorce proceedings, assigns your case to a judge, and allows you to proceed with the details of your divorce action. Within a Petition, you must provide a significant amount of information and therefore, it is important to consult with a lawyer to ensure all elements are met. Some of the information required in the petition includes: your name, as well as your spouse’s; whether either spouse is a member of the military; the date and location of your marriage; the date of your separation; state whether you or your spouse has been a resident of the State of Florida for the 6 months prior to filing the petition, the names and birth dates of the minor children of the parties; the grounds for the divorce; the division of marital assets and liabilities; the need of spousal support; if a parenting plan and child support guidelines have been included; and all the relief you are requesting from the court. In addition to the Petition, you are immediately required to file a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit if minor children are involved; a copy of your Florida driver’s license, Florida Identification card, or an Affidavit of Corroborating Witness to satisfy the jurisdictional requirement; and a Notice of Social Security Number.

After the initial petition and documents have been filed a summons will be issued and service will be obtained on the spouse. After receipt of the summons and petition, the spouse, also known as the respondent, has 20 days to file an Answer. This document is a simple response of admit or deny, to each statement or allegation made in the Petition. The answer will provide the court with the information regarding the items under dispute between the parties. In addition to this answer, the respondent may wish to file a counter petition to address certain items not raised in the initial petition and further relief they are seeking from the court. In addition to the answer, and or counter petition, the respondent must also file a Notice of Social Security Number, and a copy of their Florida Driver’s license if their spouse was unable to meet the jurisdictional 6 month requirement.

After these initial documents have been filed, you will be provided with a new set of tasks and documents to proceed with your case in a timely manner. There are many steps to a divorce proceeding and a great deal of documents to be provided. Therefore, we encourage you to take it one step at a time and consult with your attorney often regarding timelines and any questions you may have about the items needed from you. We ensure that you will be well informed and adequately prepared for the proceedings and your rights will be protected.

Speaking to an attorney at our Pensacola office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at (800) 822-5170 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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