Divorces are messy, to say the least. There are some rare circumstances where everything goes exactly as planned, but going through an Escambia County divorce or a Pensacola divorce on your own can require a lot of thoughtful attention to detail and legal research to ensure you understand your rights.
Filing for a Divorce
Florida is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that neither spouse has to provide reasons for the separation.
According to Florida law, the grounds for dissolution include:
- The marriage is irretrievably broken and cannot be fixed with therapy; or
- One party is mentally incapacitated for three years prior to the divorce filing.
The spouse filing for the divorce must complete a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage using one of the forms from the Florida State Court System’s website. When you are the one that initiates filing for the divorce, you are the petitioner and your spouse is the respondent. The respondent (that is, the spouse who is not filing for the divorce) will receive and answer questions on this form.
There are four types of forms for an Escambia County divorce. Choose the one that fits your situation:
Simplified Dissolution of Marriage:
When your Escambia County divorce is amicable and is not complicated by a division of assets or children, you can file a simplified dissolution of marriage. The qualifications include:
- One or both of you living in Florida for a minimum of six months;
- An agreement between you and your spouse that it is not possible to save the marriage due to irreconcilable differences;
- The wife is not pregnant and you have no minor children together;
- Neither party is seeking alimony;
- Both agree to waive rights to a family court trial and appeal;
- You have already determined the division of assets and liabilities;
- Both spouses can attend the final hearing at the same time; and
- Both agree to sign the petition for dissolution of marriage at the county clerk’s office.
This is the easiest type of Escambia County divorce to file and does not require a trial to complete.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Children
If the wife is pregnant or the two of you have minor children together, you cannot file a simplified dissolution of marriage, even if you agree on the terms of the dissolution. You must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Dependent or Minor Children.
It is important to note that you must properly notify your spouse of the divorce petition, a process that is called “service.” There are different ways to serve notice to your spouse depending on where the spouse lives and on whether your spouse is in the military.
An experienced divorce attorney can help you ensure that you properly serve notice of your divorce petition.
With this process, if your spouse disagrees or denies anything in your petition, those disputed issues will likely have to be resolved through mediation or before a family law court.
Having a parenting and time-sharing plan is important. If you and your spouse cannot agree on parenting arrangements and a time-sharing schedule, a judge will decide it for you according to the best interest of the child or children.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Minor or Dependent Children
Property can be a sticking point for a lot of couples. When there are no kids involved, but there is property, you may need to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Minor or Dependent Children. File this form under these circumstances:
- One party seek alimony from the other;
- Parties need a judge to rule on property division, debts, and other financial matters;
- One or both of you want to retain the ability to reconsider decisions made or appeal decisions made by a judge; or
- One spouse seeks additional information about the other party’s finances prior to the divorce settlement or trial.
Several additional documents get filed along with this form. Make sure you complete all the necessary steps to move the process along.
Again, use of this process requires serving notice of your petition on your spouse, and it too may be complicated if your spouse contests anything in your petition.
Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Dependent or Minor Children or Property
Having no children or property seems like it would make your Pensacola divorce simple, but there can still be areas of debate over assets. In this case, you would file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with No Dependent or Minor Children or Property form. Notice requirements apply to this process.
Escambia County Divorce Filing Fees
According to the Escambia County Clerk of Court, divorce filing fees are $408. These are subject to change, so make sure to check back for current fees. This does not include other fees, such as summons, service of process, or serving an out-of-state divorce summons.
Contested vs. Uncontested Escambia County Divorce
A contested divorce is one where a judge is necessary to decide certain matters involving the division of assets, property, and children. These divorces go to trial and may not be resolved immediately. An uncontested divorce in Pensacola does not require a judge and does not go to trial.
Should You Hire a Divorce Attorney?
Divorces are rarely pleasant, and there is more at risk than just emotional turmoil. If you and your spouse choose to forgo legal representation and file for divorce on your own, make sure that you are really getting what you want.
When there are children, property, or other assets involved, it is important to secure legal representation.
You’ve heard the comment, “I lost everything in the divorce.” Do not let that be you.
The experienced Pensacola divorce law attorneys at Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon understand how to navigate the Florida family law system and can help ensure you negotiate for what you want to receive out of your marriage dissolution.
We understand how stressful this time can be, and we want to help make it as easy as possible through compassionate and zealous legal representation. Contact us to schedule an appointment.