Florida's Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.105 provides an easy way out of your marriage. Unfortunately, the rule comes with a lot of other rules attached, so not all couples qualify to use it. If you do, your marriage can be dissolved – and you can be divorced – quickly and without much ado.
Rule 12.105 requires filing with the court a petition for simplified dissolution of your marriage, Florida Form 12.901(a). It's a joint petition that both you and your spouse must sign in person at the court clerk's office. Some Florida counties allow you to avoid this appearance if your signatures are notarized, so call ahead to find out. Either you or your spouse must meet the state's six-month residency requirement for divorce. You can prove residency by providing a photo ID that substantiates your Florida address or the testimony or written affidavit of a witness. When you file your petition, the clerk will assign a court date. There's a mandatory 20-day waiting period, but your hearing can usually be scheduled shortly thereafter, depending on how busy the court's docket is. You and your spouse must appear for this hearing together and bring a written proposed judgment of dissolution, detailing the terms of your divorce, for the judge's approval.
Another rule for a simplified dissolution involves resolving all your financial issues without the intervention of the court. This means agreeing how to divide your assets and debts and incorporating the terms into a marital settlement agreement. Some counties require that you submit the signed agreement to the court along with your petition, but in others, the agreement you take to the hearing may be enough as long as it includes all necessary terms. You can waive the standard Florida divorce requirement that you and your spouse exchange financial affidavits, detailing everything you owe, own and earn. However, you're free to do so if you like. Both you and your spouse must waive the right to alimony.
A simplified dissolution does not allow you to decide issues of child support or custody. One of the criteria under Rule 12.105 is that you cannot have any children who depend on you for support, either minors or disabled adults. You cannot be pregnant. This rule encompasses not only children you conceived together, but any born during the term of the marriage, even if you were living separately at the time and someone else is the father.
Right of Appeal
After you sign and file your petition for dissolution, the only way to undo, or modify, the terms of your agreement is for both you and your spouse to fail to appear at the court hearing. In this event, the court automatically dismisses your case. Otherwise, you're locked in. Under Rule 12.105, both you and your spouse must waive your right to have the court decide issues for you at trial and to appeal the terms of your divorce.
- Florida State Courts: Instructions for Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.901(a) (PDF)
- Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Escambia County, Florida: Court Services – Simplified Dissolution of Marriage
- Clerk of the Courts, Polk County, Florida: Simplified Divorce FAQ
- Florida Lawyer's World Wide Web Resource Center: Florida Family Law Rules
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