Divorce is a legal dissolution of the marriage. In this article, the focus will be on how to get a cheap divorce, the procedure of filing for a divorce, and the online divorce procedure in Florida.
Florida ranks third in the country in number of divorces each year, which goes right in line with Florida being the third most populated state in America. And like in any other state, litigating a divorce in Florida can be costly.
Many married couples find it hard and expensive when seeking a divorce. Thus, they seek any means possible to avoid any unnecessary costs. The good news is that, under many circumstances, there are ways to make your divorce cheaper in Florida.
Factors to Consider for a Possible Cheap Divorce
Minor Children: One big factor that can affect every part of a divorce, including the cost, is minor children. In Florida, filing for a divorce when minor children are involved can complicate the settlement agreement and even affect how property is divided and financial obligations are determined after the divorce. This, in turn, can make completing the process without the assistance of an expensive lawyer less likely.
And since child support is paid until a child reaches the age of 18 and has graduated from high school, the financial obligation of caring for minor children, especially if they are very young at the time of the divorce, can become a long term and costly event. So obviously, a divorce in which the couple has adult children offers a financial advantage.
Alimony: Alimony is financial support paid by one spouse to the other during or after the divorce. It’s meant to assist the more dependent spouse with supporting themself until they can find work or receive the training necessary to find adequate employment. It is most common in cases where one spouse stayed at home to care for the children during the marriage, preventing them from gaining the qualifications and skills necessary to start a career after the divorce.
Some couples may not ask for any financial assistance after the marital dissolution for personal reasons or for the sake of avoiding a longer waiting period until the court gives the final verdict. If no alimony is necessary, it simplifies the case and makes the marriage dissolution more affordable.
Mediation: The most expensive part of any divorce is the legal costs. Attorneys often charge around $500/hour or more for their services. So any steps that can help you avoid having to pay an attorney will reduce the costs of your divorce. When couples want to have a simplified dissolution, but are having trouble reaching an agreement on some issues, mediation can be the perfect option. A mediator is a neutral 3rd party whose sole mission is to help the couple find common ground and reach a mutually beneficial compromise for any unresolved issues. Professional mediators are available through the court, and though the fees are not cheap, it is significantly less costly than the services of an attorney.
Mediation is always available to the couple, even before filing a lawsuit to the court. Once the mediation is done, according to (Keane Gerald B., 2003), the couple can file for their marriage dissolution by attaching the mediation agreements made. After one spouse registers the divorce papers, the court will find out if the minimum threshold to dissolve their union is met, and thus, the hearing proceeds immediately. The couple cuts huge litigation costs by following this route.
Couples with no minor children and no alimony, that have reached an agreement on all of the issues of their divorce, qualify for a simplified dissolution of marriage in the state of Florida. A simplified dissolution of marriage allows a couple to get divorced in the quickest terms possible (30 days) without even having to attend a court hearing, as choosing this route eliminates both parties' rights to a trial and appeals.
Online divorce in Florida
Filing for a divorce over the internet is possible in Florida. However, this process may not be easy or even possible if the divorce case is complicated or contested.
Filing a divorce online in Florida is available for uncontested cases following one of two options: applying for a divorce through the conventional court system or by registering for a simplified dissolution of marriage without a hearing. Most of the divorce cases in Florida are submitted online because the process is fast, easy, affordable, and does not require the assistance of a third party, thus observing the privacy of the couple.
Applying for divorce online has to fulfill a given threshold which includes the following:
- Both parties have to consent to the divorce and agree that the marriage union is irretrievably broken. Due to the laws in Florida, the couple has to agree that the marriage union is beyond any form of reconciliation for a divorce to be eligible.
- The residency requirements for the state of Florida have to be met. In Florida, the petitioner has to be a citizen of the state for at least six months before filing the divorce papers.
- Florida law makes it mandatory for parents of minor children to complete a parenting course on the internet before the couple can file the divorce papers. These classes enable the parents to learn their responsibilities to the children after the divorce. They share knowledge on how to access and fill the online divorce forms.
Steps for getting a cheaper divorce in Florida
An uncontested divorce is a dissolution of marriage with no disagreements. To qualify for an uncontested divorce, both parents have to reach an agreement about all of the terms of their divorce including property division, child custody, and financial support. This agreement should then be put in writing to be reviewed by the judge at the final hearing.
Though it is not easy to come to terms with your spouse, couples that can reach an amicable agreement on all the particularities of their divorce may proceed without legal assistance, saving a huge amount of expenses in the process. It is noted from research (Brackett, Kimberly, and Kimberly P, 2008) that the Florida government gives guidance through a website called the Florida courts website resource page that provides access to all the necessary information towards filing a divorce.
There is also a family law self-help center that provides couples with the necessary divorce papers. The main document filed to initiate the process is the “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.’’ The person submitting the form is the petitioner and the other spouse is the respondent. The court expects the petitioner to have a separate form indicating whether or not he/she has children.
Ways of getting a cheaper divorce in Florida include:
The cheapest options for an uncontested divorce are an online divorce or a DIY divorce. These are preferred because they are the most affordable, and, in the case of online divorce, it is the least complicated.
The following are the steps to apply for an online divorce as a cheaper divorce option in Florida:
1. Find a reputable and reliable online platform then check to be sure that you qualify. Most online divorce sites will have you go through a short qualification check before setting up an account and paying. If you qualify, you register and pay the fee (usually between $139 – $400) and start the process. The main requirements to file for an online divorce in Florida include meeting the residence requirements, the consent of both parties to seek a divorce as the marriage is irretrievably broken, a settlement agreement on the terms of your divorce, and parenting classes if you have minor children.
2. The online divorce site will have you complete an online questionnaire/survey to gather all of the relevant information about your case. This information will then be used by the online divorce service to select and fill out the divorce forms required for your case. The paperwork process is easy and convenient since it can be done right from the comfort of your own home. Most online platforms will have the forms completed in as little as two – three days.
3. Print the forms, sign them, and file them at your local court’s office. Many sites offer a guarantee of acceptance by the court and even easy to follow filing instructions.
Because of the high number of divorce cases in Florida, the state government has to come up with ways to minimize this popular trend. But when a divorce is inevitable, the state of Florida does offer cheaper options to complete the process.