Where to File Divorce Documents in Florida

by Elizabeth Stock
Florida's circuit courts handle divorce cases.

Florida's circuit courts handle divorce cases.

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Making the decision to file for divorce can be confusing and complicated. If you are filing for divorce without legal assistance, it may be especially difficult to determine where to file your divorce documents in Florida if you are unfamiliar with the legal system. However, there are a few issues to consider when filing for divorce in the state.

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Choosing a Court

File the petition for divorce, known as dissolution of marriage in Florida, in the circuit court of the county where you and your spouse last lived together or where either you or your spouse currently live. In addition, you or your spouse must have lived in Florida for at least six months before filing for divorce. If you and your spouse have children, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, or UCCJEA, must be considered. Florida has adopted the UCCJEA; this act gives the child's home state the authority to decide child custody issues. According to UCCJEA, the child's home state is the state where the child has lived for at least six months prior to the divorce filing. If no home state exists, the court will consider where the child has significant connections. Therefore, if you file for divorce in Florida and your child recently moved to the state or lives in another state, Florida may not have the authority to make a decision regarding child custody.

Filing

To begin a divorce case, you must file a petition for dissolution of marriage in the circuit court. Florida no longer recognizes fault-based reasons for divorce; therefore, the only requirement to obtain a divorce in Florida is to state the marriage is irretrievably broken. No additional proof is required; however, at your hearing, the judge may ask whether you consider your marriage irretrievably broken. When you complete the petition, you will also include the relief you want from the court, such as alimony or child custody. You must provide your spouse with a copy of the petition after you file the document with the court.

Venue Change

If you or your spouse file the petition in the wrong court, or if proceeding with the divorce would be more convenient in another county, you may be able to change the venue to a different county. One or both spouses can request a venue change. Be aware, however, that the requirements for a venue change can vary by county, so it is best to contact the circuit court clerk’s office for specific instructions. Generally, a motion must be filed with the court requesting the venue change and detail the reasons why the current venue is improper.

Simplified Divorce Procedure

Florida recognizes a simplified divorce procedure. To qualify, spouses must meet certain requirements, including having no minor children and neither spouse seeking alimony. In addition, the spouses must be in agreement regarding the division of their marital property. To file for divorce using the simplified procedure, both spouses must complete a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, along with any other required documents, and submit it to the clerk of the circuit court.