Wendy L. Robbins, Esq.
21ST Annual Nuts and Bolts of Divorce
February 13, 2013
FRIENDS – (don’t forget Battle of
the Legal Bands – 03/10/13!)
For the purposes of this PowerPoint, the term “children”
refers to dependent or minor children only, including
situations when the wife is pregnant at the time of the
Any references to form numbers refer to the Family Law
Forms found at the Florida State Courts website at
Filing for Dissolution-Petition
Which type of Dissolution of Marriage Action is Necessary?
 Simplified dissolutions are used when…
 The parties agree that the marriage cannot be saved.
 The parties have no dependent or minor children and the
wife is not pregnant.
 The parties have agreed on the terms of the divorce (ex.
division of marital assets and liabilities).
 Neither party is seeking alimony.
 For more information on when to use a simplified dissolution,
see Form 12.901(a) at the Florida State Courts website.
Filing for Dissolution-Petition
 For all other types, use a Regular Petition for Dissolution.
 There are three types:
 Form 12.901(b)(1) - Dissolution with Children and
 Form 12.901(b)(2) - Dissolution with Property but No
 Form 12.901(b)(3) - Dissolution with No Children or
Ex. the parties may not agree on the terms or the necessity of a
Filing for Dissolution-Petition
 Jurisdiction
 Fla. Stat. § 61.021: One of the parties to the divorce must
reside in Fla. for at least 6 months before the filing of the
petition for dissolution.
The resident party does not have to be the spouse requesting
the dissolution.
Residence = actual presence + intent to remain (Marshall v.
Marshall, 988 So.2d 644 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008)).
Filing for Dissolution-Petition
 Jurisdiction continued…
 The residency requirement may be demonstrated in two
By providing a copy of a current Fla. driver’s license, Fla.
identification card, or voter’s registration card.
By an Affidavit of Corroborating Witness – Form 12.902(i),
which is signed by someone other than either spouse,
verifying that the residency requirement is met.
 For more information on the residency requirement, see
Family Law Form 12.902(i).
Filing for Dissolution-Petition
 Venue (Chapter 47, Florida Statutes)
 In dissolution cases, venue is proper in the Florida county
where the marriage last existed.
i.e. the county where both partners were “last present with a
common intention to remain married” (Carroll v. Carroll, 322
So.2d 53, 57 (Fla. 1st DCA 1975), approved by 341 So.2d 771).
Filing for Dissolution-Petition
 Venue continued…
 If the petitioning spouse is a non-resident of Florida,
venue is proper in the county where the respondent
(resident spouse) resides. Bolles v. Bolles, 364 So.2d 813
(Fla. 3d DCA 1978).
 However, if the respondent is a non-resident,
proceedings can be brought in any Florida county. Evans
v. Evans, 194 So. 215 (Fla. 1940).
 See also Lucille M. Espey-Francis, Jurisdiction, Venue, and
Service of Process, Fla. Dissolution of Marriage §§3.483.49 (2010).
Filing for Dissolution-Petition
 Service of Process
 Personal Service: Forms 12.910(a) and (b)
 Constructive Service: Forms 12.913(a) and(b)
 Military Service may require additional steps. See, e.g., the
Memorandum for Certificate of Military Service, Form
Filing for Dissolution-cont.
 You will also need to file…
 Family Court Cover Sheet – Form 12.928
Must be filed with the first pleading or motion to open
or reopen any domestic or juvenile case.
See Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.100(a).
 Notice of Social Security Number – Form 12.902(j)
Must be filed by both parties in any paternity, child
support, or dissolution of marriage case.
See Fla. Stat. § 61.052(7).
Filing for Dissolution-cont.
 Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure –
Form 12.932
 Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.285(a) requires the exchange of
particular documents and financial information (i.e.
mandatory disclosures) in certain family law cases,
including a dissolution with children and property.
 Each party must file this certificate with the court to
verify that the documents have been exchanged.
Filing for Dissolution-cont.
 Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure –
Form 12.932 continued…
 This form must be filed with the petition OR within 45
days of service of the petition on the respondent,
unless the parties have agreed to waive mandatory
 Objections to mandatory disclosure must be filed with
a Notice of Hearing on the objection and served on the
other party. Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.285(h).
 See Form 12.932 for details on what type of information
must be disclosed.
Filing for Dissolution-cont.
 Family Law Financial Affidavit – Form 12.902(b) or (c)
 Must be filed with the court and served on the other
party in any proceeding seeking financial relief. Fla.
Fam. L.R.P. 12.285(c)(1) and (d)(1).
 Must be filed with the petition if petitioner is seeking
child support. If not, it can be filed within 45 days of
service of the petition on the respondent.
 Use Form 12.902(b) if your client’s individual gross
income is under $50,000 per year. Use Form 12.902(c) if
it is $50,000 or more per year.
Filing for Dissolution-cont.
 Child Support Guidelines Worksheet – Form 12.902(e)
 Must be completed if a party is requesting child support.
Fam. L.R.P. 12.285(j).
 If the spouse’s income is unknown, this form may be
filed after receipt of the spouse’s financial affidavit, but
it must be filed at or before any hearing on child
Filing for Dissolution-cont.
 UCCJEA Affidavit – Form 12.902(d)
 The purpose of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and
Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) is, inter alia, to “[a]void
jurisdictional competition and conflict with courts of other
states in matters of child custody which have in the past
resulted in the shifting of children from state to state with
harmful effects on their well-being.” (Fla. Stat. § 61.502)
 This form must be filed in any case involving custody,
visitation, or time sharing with minor children, even if such
elements are not part of the current dispute.
 Make this form a separate document (as it was intended) –
you might need to use it as an exhibit.
Filing for Dissolution-Other
 If the client is indigent, do not forget to complete an
Application for Determination of Civil Indigent Status,
which can be obtained from the clerk or on the Florida
State Courts website. FYI, MOST legal aid and PSB
clients will qualify.
 If the case involves domestic violence, you can file a
Request for Confidential Filing of Address, Form
12.980(h), to keep your client’s address confidential for
safety purposes.
Filing for Dissolution-Other
 Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.040(a) states that “an attorney of record
for a party, in a family law matter governed by these rules,
shall be the attorney of record throughout the same family
law matter…”
 Notice of Limited Appearance: If you and your client wish to limit
the scope of your representation to particular issues or
proceedings within the case, see Forms 12.900(b)-(g).
 If there is another pending case involving the same parties
or issues, file a Notice of Related Cases, Form 12.900(h).
 Ex. where one spouse already initiated a child support
proceeding, or if there is a Domestic Violence case involving the
Filing for
Dissolution- PLAN
 The terms “custody,” “visitation,” “primary/secondary”
parent and “custodial/non-custodial” parent, were
eliminated from Florida’s statutory scheme in 2008.
 The new terms in this area are “shared/sole parental
responsibility” and “time-sharing.” See Fla. Stat. §
61.046(17) and (23) for definitions.
 Now, under Fla. Stat. § 61.13(2), Florida courts must
create a “parenting plan” detailing how the parents will
share responsibility for the daily activities associated
with raising a child AND the time sharing schedule the
parents will follow.
Filing for
Dissolution- PLAN
 See Fla. Stat. § 61.046(14) for a detailed definition of
“parenting plan” and what must be including in the plan.
 If parents agree on a parenting plan, use Form 12.995(a)
to submit this plan to the court for approval. If not
approved, the court will create a plan.
 If the parents cannot agree on a plan, each parent may
still submit proposed parenting plans for the court’s
consideration using Form 12.995(a).
 NOTE: Form 12.995(b) is for supervised time-sharing.
Filing for
Dissolution- PLAN
 The court may award sole responsibility to one parent,
instead of shared responsibility between parents, but
ONLY if it is in the best interest of the child. Fla. Stat. §
61.13(2)(c)(2)(b) and 61.13 (3).
 Even with shared responsibility, the court still may
divide the actual responsibilities between the parents
based on the best interest of the child. Fla. Stat. §
 To determine the child’s best interests, the court must
consider the factors listed at Fla. Stat. § 61.13(3).
 Prepare your client’s answer to the Petition for
Dissolution of Marriage. AND
 A counter-petition and “affirmative defenses” are not
the same.
 A Petition and a Counter-Petition are the same thing,
just the titles for your client and the other party differ.
Parenting Course
 Fla. Stat. § 61.21(4) requires that parties to a
dissolution with children complete a Parent Education
and Family Stabilization course prior to the entry of
the final judgment.
 Fla. Stat. § 61.21(5) adds that the petitioning spouse
must complete the course within 45 days after filing
the petition, and the respondent spouse must
complete it within 45 days after service of the petition.
Parenting Course-continued…
 The court may excuse parties from completing the course if
good cause can be shown. Fla. Stat. § 61.21(4).
 The court may also prohibit the course from being taken by
both parties at the same time, if there has been a history of
domestic violence. Fla. Stat. § 61.21(11).
 The listing of approved course providers is maintained by
the Fla. Dep’t of Children and Families at OR directly at
Parenting Course-continued…
 A reasonable fee may be charged to each parent attending
the course. Fla. Stat. § 61.21(7). However, this fee differs
among course providers. Generally the fee is between $2050.
 Please see the DCF links on the previous slide for
information on waiving the fees for indigent clients, as this
practice differs among course providers.
 Additionally, please see the circuit court links within this
PowerPoint OR contact the clerk, family law intake staff, or
judicial assistant in your jurisdiction for more information.
 Mandatory disclosure under Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.285 starts the discovery
 But you can also use interrogatories.
 File a Notice of Service of Standard Family Law
Interrogatories, Form 12.930(a) with the circuit court clerk.
 Send the above notice AND one of the following Family Law
Interrogatory forms to the other party:
Original and Enforcement Proceedings – Form 12.930(b)
Modification Proceedings – Form 12.930(c)
 You can include up to 10 additional interrogatories without
leave of Court (Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.340(b)).
 Consider other forms of discovery
 Request for production – see Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.350
 Request for admissions – see Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.370
 Depositions – see Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.290-12.330
 Keep in mind that court approval is required before a minor
child can be involved in certain aspects of the proceedings.
See Fla. Fam. L.R.P. 12.407.
Other Considerations
See Florida State Courts website for information on…
 Special Considerations for Military Personnel
 Unique situations (e.g., deployment, military benefits)
 Military regulations
 Federal statutes
 Florida statutes
 Relocation
 Contempt/Enforcement
 Support unconnected with dissolution of marriage

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