What is an Uncontested Divorce in Florida?

An uncontested divorce in Florida means that you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all issues that the judge would otherwise decide for you. Each divorce may have different issues, but the 5 general issues to be considered in your divorce agreement are listed below:

1. Parenting Plan & Custody Agreement

The parenting plan is a document that described the parents’ rights and responsibilities concerning any joint children under the age of 18. This is also known as a custody agreement. It dictates decision making authority and the timesharing schedule that the parties will follow in terms of where the children will live and when they will spend time with each parent. The parenting plan should also include a holiday timesharing schedule, a provision about parent-to-parent communications, children-to-parent communications, transportation requirements, exchange of timesharing, travel provisions, extracurricular activities, and what happens in the event of a disagreement on decision making authority. To qualify for an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must agree on all provisions of the Parenting Plan. You can find a form Parenting Plan with instructions here.

2. Property Division

Property division in Florida is also known as equitable distribution. It refers to the division of all marital assets and debts. There is a presumption that all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are marital, regardless of whose name is on the debt or assets. To have an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse need to reach an agreement on who gets to keep what assets and who is responsible for paying what debts. For example, the agreement should cover who gets to keep the house, cars, bank accounts, and retirement accounts, etc. Likewise, the agreement also should cover who will be responsible for car payments, credit cards, and mortgages, etc.

3. Alimony

Alimony in Florida is also known as spousal support. Alimony is a payment from one spouse to the other to provide economic assistance to the spouse who is unable to meet his or her own financial needs. Alimony is complex and there are many different types of alimony in Florida. To get alimony, it must be considered in your divorce agreement. This means you and your spouse must agree that alimony will be paid, how much, and for how long it will be paid.

4. Child Support

Child support in Florida is different from alimony. Child support is monies paid from one spouse to the other to ensure the parent receiving child support can provide food, shelter, and basic living necessities when the children are in their care. Child support is determined by statutory guidelines in Florida.  Child support depends on the parties’ respective gross income, deductions, cost of health insurance, cost of daycare, and the number of overnights each parent will spend with the children each year. An uncontested divorce involving children must have a provision for child support. The judge must ensure that child support has been established according to the statutory guidelines, even if the parties have agreed differently. As a result, you have to file with the court a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet to get the divorce approved by the judge. You can find the form Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and instructions here.

5. Attorney’s Fees & Costs

You must also decide who will be responsible for paying attorney’s fees and costs. Although it is not required to have an attorney prepare the divorce agreement, it is highly encouraged.  A divorce attorney can help make sure the divorce agreement is accurate and complete. If one or both parties to a divorce hire an attorney, the agreement needs to cover who will pay the bill for that.

A divorce can become uncontested at any stage of a divorce. The parties could reach an agreement on all issues above before they file for divorce with the court. In those circumstances, the parties would reduce their agreement to writing and file it along with the necessary paperwork to the court. A divorce could also start out as a contested divorce, but at some point, during the divorce process, the parties reach an agreement. This could happen through attorney negotiations or at mediation.

If you are faced with divorce and is exploring an uncontested divorce, our divorce attorneys can help. Contact us here to get the process started.

Therese Felth McKenzie

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