Coming to an understanding that your marriage is no longer working can be difficult. Coupled with this hard decision is figuring out the legal steps you need to take in order to officially dissolve the marriage. If you live in Sanford, Florida, (located in the County of Seminole), you need to file your divorce petition in the 18th Judicial Circuit Court. The court clerk can provide you the necessary forms.
Provide proof that you have lived in Florida for at least six months, as required by Florida law, before filing for divorce. Showing a copy of a Florida driver’s license or voter registration card issued to you more than six months prior to your petition is sufficient.
Determine which dissolution-of-marriage petition you need to fill out and file. Florida’s Family Law Courts have petitions for the following circumstances: marriages with no minor children and no property division; marriages with property to divide but with no minor children; and marriages with minor children. Obtain the petition that applies to your circumstances.
Fill out the dissolution-of-marriage petition. The form simply requires you to provide basic information about you, your spouse, and your marriage.
Fill in the Civil Action Cover Sheet for Family Court Cases. All civil actions in the 18th Circuit Court must have a cover sheet. The Family Court cover sheet requires you to fill in information about the parties, check a particular box to indicate what type of case this is (check the dissolution-of-marriage box), and sign the cover sheet. You must include the 18th Circuit Court information. The address of the 18th Circuit Court in Seminole County is 301 North Park Avenue, Sanford, Florida 32771. The phone number is 407-665-4211.
Fill out a summons form. A summons form provides notice to your spouse that he or she is being sued and must answer the allegations in the dissolution petition.
Make three copies of the petition, the cover sheet and the summons form.
Serve one copy of the petition (with cover sheet) and summons form on your spouse. Under Florida rules, you must find a disinterested party to serve the papers. If you need the court to serve your spouse, fill out a Process Service Memorandum. Otherwise, find someone 18 or older who is not involved in the lawsuit to serve the papers on your spouse.
File the remaining two copies of the petition (with cover sheet) and summons form with the court clerk’s office at the 18th Judicial Circuit Court. If you require the court to serve your spouse, include your Process Service Memorandum in the filing; otherwise provide proof of service (a paper signed by the spouse indicating that he or she received the forms). Pay the filing fees.
The clerk at the 18th Circuit Court will process your papers, assign your case a number, and assign your case to a judge. According to FLCourts18.com, four judges handle civil and family law cases as of 2010: Judge Alley, Judge Dickey, Judge Rudisill and Judge Simmons. Each judge has his own practice manual; review the manual for your judge by using the links in the Resources section below.
Be advised: the law often changes and is filled with potential pitfalls for those seeking to handle their own legal problems. This article is not intended to provide you with legal advice. You are strongly encouraged to seek the assistance of an attorney in your area.
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