Florida Divorce Paperwork: What’s Needed?

By

Florida Divorce Paperwork: What’s Needed?

Many of my clients find Florida divorce paperwork confusing.  I have had many clients that began by trying to save a few dollars. They tried the process on their own. They then became confused, gave up, and signed up for my service.\

Florida divorce paperwork - image shows a hand holding a pen over papers on a wood table with a coffee cup in the background.
Florida divorce paperwork does not have to be hard or confusing. Get a cup of coffee, breathe, and let me help.

This is exactly why I started my service in the beginning.  I wanted to take the confusion and headaches out of the process – for a reasonable price.  Remember, clients don’t hire me to just give them a set of forms.

Anyone can get blank forms for free from their local clerk.  Clients hire me for the expertise and experience it takes to know exactly what is needed. I am hired because I know why these forms are needed. Apart from some of my competition, I also know what to do with them to complete a divorce.

Here is some of the Florida divorce paperwork that seems to cause the most confusion:

Acceptance of Service

All parties have to be afforded what is called “due process” in any legal process.

Due process means a couple of things. First, all parties have the right to be made aware that there has been a legal action filed. Also, they have a right to know that they are a part of it. Due process is usually performed by the local sheriff’s office. A process server may be involved. Either way, someone will usually knock on your door with a set of papers.  In an uncontested divorce we are lucky. We can skip this potentially embarrassing event.

I provide you with a document called “ACCEPTANCE OF SERVICE.” The other party can simply sign this. This is in lieu of the Sheriff’s service. Signing this is the first step towards an uncontested divorce in Florida.

The court will not sign off on a final judgment unless the “respondent” has signed this document and it has been filed with the clerk.

Answer and Waiver

Once a party has either been served or has “Accepted service”, they have 20 days to file an answer to the petition.  The petition is the document that states what the law suit is all about and what is being asked for.   In every divorce case the court has to wait at least that 20 days. This period is required before the court can consider signing the final judgment.

When you “answer” the petition you get the opportunity to make your own judgment. You can say whether you agree with or dispute the allegations contained in the petition.  Once again we are fortunate in an uncontested divorce. All parties are in agreement and therefore not disputing the allegations.   This document allows both parties to say to the court, “we both understand what is going on and we are both OK with it.”

The body of the answer and waiver for an uncontested divorce looks something like this:

 Respondent answers the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage filed in this action and admits all the allegations. By admitting all of the allegations in the petition, respondent agrees to all relief requested in the petition including any requests regarding parenting and time-sharing, child support, alimony, distribution of marital assets and liabilities, and temporary relief.

Respondent waives notice of hearing as well as all future notices in connection with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, as filed. Respondent also waives appearance at the final hearing and any and all time frames required by law.

Once this document is signed the court is now aware that it is OK to proceed with signing the final judgment at any time after the 20 day waiting period.

Affidavit of Corroborating Witness

Probably the most confusing Florida divorce paperwork clients ask about is the “Affidavit of Corroborating Witness” form.

Why It Is Used

This document is only used when neither of the parties has any proof that they are a Florida resident.  Remember that one of the two parties to a divorce has to be a Florida resident. That party has to have been a resident for at least 6 months prior to the date the divorce is filed.

This doesn’t mean all they have to do is live in Florida for any 6 months.  It means 6 continuous months prior to the date the divorce gets filed.  Typically, at least one of the parties to a divorce has a Florida driver’s license. The license used must have been issued for at least 6 months. Sometimes, neither party has this type of proof but they have been a resident for the required 6 months.

That Sounds Like My Situation!

In this situation I provide clients with the Affidavit of Corroborating Witness document.  This is a document that a friend of one of the parties can sign in front of a notary. This document states that they know the party in question. It also states that they can swear that that party has been a resident for at least 6 months.

This document needs to be signed as close as possible to the date the divorce is being filed. This lets the court knows there has been no gap in the 6 month time frame.

The body of this document looks like this:

AFFIDAVIT OF CORROBORATING WITNESS

I,               John Doe                                                                          , being sworn, certify that the following statements are true: I have known       Jane Smith     since {approximate date}     1/1/15                         ;  and I know of my own personal knowledge that this person has resided in the State of Florida for at least 6 months immediately before the date of signing this affidavit.

I understand that I am swearing or affirming under oath to the truthfulness of the claims made in this affidavit and that the punishment for knowingly making a false statement includes fines and/or imprisonment.

This document needs to have been signed in front of a notary. The court almost always accepts it as proof of residency. No further proof is usually needed.

Wrap-Up

Hopefully these explanations have provided an understanding of some Florida divorce paperwork. These may be needed in your divorce process. Now you know why they are necessary.

Florida Divorce Paperwork Series

This is part of a series on important documents and paperwork that are commonly part of a Florida divorce:

Part I: Florida Divorce Paperwork: What’s Needed?

Part II: Parenting Plans in Florida

Part III: The Marital Settlement Agreement

Please look for future posts regarding other documents used in the process:

The UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION ACT (UCCJA) AFFIDAVIT

The notice of social security number

The Final Judgment

The Financial Affidavit

Need more help? Contact me and our team will get back to you ASAP.