You can file divorce in Pinellas County, Florida in one of two ways. If you and your spouse agree as to the disposition of assets and liabilities, child support and alimony, you can file a simplified divorce. If you disagree on even one issue, you must file for a general divorce. Florida is a no-fault state, so the petition need only to allege irreconcilable differences.
Filing a Simplified Divorce
Determine eligibility to file in Pinellas County, Florida by checking your government-issued identification. This is, in most cases, a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card. One of the parties must have resided in the state of Florida for more than six months, and you must have either been married in Pinellas County or must have lived in Pinellas County as husband and wife at the time you separated or at the time you file the petition. There cannot be children involved if you wish to file a simplified divorce.
Complete the forms that are available online through the Pinellas County Clerk of Court’s office. You need to complete the following forms: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, Settlement Agreement, Family Law Financial Affidavit (one for each party), Affidavit of Military Service, Respondent’s Answer, and, for each party, a Notice of Social Security Number.
Sign and notarize the forms. Bring the signed forms and the filing fee to the Clerk’s office. The filing fee changes from time to time and can be found on the Clerk of Court’s website. Make a copy of the forms for you and your spouse. Bring the copies with you if you want the clerk to stamp the copies (not mandatory, as long as you each have a copy of the signed forms).
Attend the hearing set by the Deputy Clerk of Court. Pinellas County requires that the parties wait for at least 21 days after filing the paperwork to attend a final hearing. Both parties must attend the final hearing.
Filing a General Divorce
Complete the forms that are available as outlined in section 1, step 1. If you have minor children, you must also complete a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) form.
Sign and notarize the forms. Make a copy of the forms. If your spouse does not agree to the divorce, you must serve her. Complete a summons. You need three copies of the summons: one for the clerk, one for you and one for your spouse. The clerk signs the summons.
Hire a private process server to serve your spouse. The Pinellas County Clerk of Court website has a list of private process servers accepted by the Court. Once you have been served, the process server files a notice of service with the court. Your spouse has 20 days from the date she is served to respond to the petition. The response must be in writing and filed with the clerk of court.
File a Motion for Default and an Order on Default if your spouse does not file an answer within the 20-day time limit (it is always a good idea to wait until the 21st day to check on the status of your case, in the event that the spouse filed late in the day).
Set a hearing with the Court if your spouse defaults or if the spouse files an answer by contacting the Family Law Division in the Pinellas County Civil Courthouse. Complete the Notice of Hearing form, sign it, make a copy for yourself and a copy for your spouse. File the original document with the Clerk of Court.