"Handling a divorce correctly ensures a fair outcome for both spouses."
- Karen Estry, Esq.
A "Dissolution of Marriage" is simply the legal term for a divorce. When "no fault" divorces came along (see below), the term "divorce" was changed to "dissolution".
An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties are in complete agreement about wanting a dissolution of their marriage (divorce) and both spouses are in complete agreement about the division of property, custody of children, any child support payments and any spousal support payments (alimony).
In such a scenario, the couple would provide a Marital Settlement Agreement to the court which would outline the agreements that have been made regarding debts, property and custody.
Even so, divorce lawyers are often needed to review the Marital Settlement Agreement, and to look over all divorce paperwork before filing with the court.
When spouses can't agree on property division, child custody, debts or other divorce-related matters, a contested divorce takes place.
Like most states, Florida does not have jury trials for contested divorces. Instead, the judge and the court clerks handle the court proceedings.
The divorce process usually begins when one spouse serves the other a "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage". The spouse served with the petition has only 20 days to respond, either by a motion or a counter-petition. Often, a divorce attorney is hired at this point.
In the past, couples wishing to end their marriage due to innocuous reasons were forced to fake serious marital problems, such as one spouse's adultery or mental cruelty, in order for the court to grant a divorce.
These days, all states have "No Fault" divorce options, and Florida is No Fault by default. As such, one does not require proof of fault in order to be granted a divorce.