​Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: On what grounds can I file for divorce in Florida?

A: Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means that citing the wrongdoing of one spouse or “what went wrong” is not necessary. Instead, most Florida divorces are granted on the grounds that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” meaning you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences.

Q: What are the residency requirements to file a divorce in Florida?

A: Either one or both spouses must have been physically present in the State of Florida for at least 6 months to be eligible to file for a divorce in Florida. You may do so as long as this residency requirement is met, even if one spouse lives out-of-state.

Q: What’s the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce? 

A: An uncontested divorce means that both parties agree on everything such as child support, alimony (if any), division of assets and debts, and are both willing to work together and cooperate. A contested divorce is when one or both parties cannot agree about the terms of the divorce, whether that’s child care, debt allocation, or division of assets.

Q: How long will does the divorce process take?

A: Whether or not the divorce is contested or uncontested will determine the length of the divorce process (see definition above), though other factors can have an impact. In Florida, the average uncontested divorce takes around 3 months to be finalized. The average contested divorce can take around 6 months to a year or longer. Keep in mind, the length of time will vary according to the judge, the county, and the willingness of the parties to move things forward or delay.

Q: What is timesharing?

A:  In Florida, timesharing is what’s known as “child custody” in other states. Florida’s policy is that in order to serve the best interests of the children, each minor child should be able to maintain ongoing contact with both the parents after a divorce. The timesharing plan (aka parenting plan) must be approved by the court. If no timesharing plan can be agreed upon, the court will intervene. As we believe no family belongs in court, we encourage those who cannot come to an agreement about timesharing to seek out mediation — a timesharing plan agreed upon by both parties via mediation is a much easier, more peaceful process than a court-ordered one.

Q: How can mediation help my case? 

Mediation is an informal and confidential dispute resolution process that is non-adversarial by design. A mediator is a neutral third party that will not force a settlement but instead will use their skills to assist with the settlement negotiations using a peaceful process that provides stability. If you and your spouse cannot agree on one or more issues, then mediation may be the best route for you. Need a mediator? John Mulhall of Mulhall Family Matters is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and offers mediation services to help couples (who have not retained counsel) seek a peaceful resolution of their conflicts.

Q:  What is alimony?

A:  Alimony, also called spousal support, is awarded when there is a need by one party for financial assistance and the other party as the financial ability to assist. In Florida, the type of alimony utilized is based on the circumstances of the case.

Q: Does Be Better Partners file my documents for me?

A: If you choose our CHOICE, PREMIER, or ADVANCED packages, then yes, we will file all of your necessary forms with the court.

Q: What if I have a few questions for a lawyer?

A: Be Better Partners is not a law firm and cannot give legal advice. However, if you need to consult with a lawyer, we recommend Mulhall Family Matters, the law firm of our founder, John Mulhall. Contact Mulhall Family Matters to schedule a consult with a lawyer by clicking here. We offer affordable, flat-fee legal services including Mediation Coaching, Diving Retirement Plans or Military Benefits, Drafting QDRO, Preparing a Trial Memorandum, Temporary Relief Stipulation and more.

Q: What if I want to find resources to Be Better Together?

A: Check out our resources page<LINK TO RESOURCES PAGE> for information about a range of professionals found online and in Florida.

Q: Can I start with one plan and later upgrade to another plan if I change my mind?

A: Yes! You can always start with our LEARN Plan and later choose to upgrade to either our CHOICE, ADVANCED, or PREMIUM Plan.

Glossary of Terms

Alimony
Financial payments made to help support a spouse or former spouse during separation or following divorce. Also called spousal support or spousal maintenance.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
Methods of resolving legal disputes without going to trial, in a less adversarial manner, such as through arbitration or mediation.

Arrearage
The amount of money that is past due for child or spousal support.

Child support
Money that a non-custodial parent pays to the custodial parent for their child(ren)’s support.

Child support guidelines
Guidelines established by statute or rule in each jurisdiction set forth the manner in which child support must be calculated, generally based on the income of the parents and the needs of the children.

Custody
Having rights to your child. Custody can be either legal, which means that you have the right to make important decisions about your child’s welfare, or physical, which means that the child lives with and is raised by you.  Note: The term and traditional legal concept of “custody” are no longer used in Florida Statutes to define a parent’s legal status with respect to his or her children, based on the principle that children are not property to be “possessed” by their parents.  See Parental Responsibility and Timesharing.

Decree
The court’s written order or decision finalizing the divorce, often issued in conjunction with the court’s judgment.

Default
Failing to answer a petition or complaint for divorce. Failing to file an answer or appear in court as required can result in the court awarding everything requested by the filing spouse.

Defendant
The person against whom legal papers are filed, also sometimes referred to as the respondent.

Deposition
Part of the discovery or information-exchanging process of a legal proceeding, in which the attorney for the other party asks you questions, you answer with your attorney present, and a transcript of the proceedings is prepared.

Discovery
The information-exchanging process of a legal proceeding, including serving and answering interrogatories and requests for production of documents, and taking depositions.

Dissolution
Another word for divorce, which is the legal termination of a marriage relationship.

Divorce
The legal termination of a marriage relationship.

Domestic violence
Physical abuse or threats of abuse occurring between members of the same household.

Equitable distribution
A division of property and debts that is fair in view of all of the circumstances. Equitable does not necessarily mean equal.

Interrogatories
Written questions served by the opposing party that must be answered in writing as part of the discovery process.

Joint Legal Custody
The sharing, by both parents, of the right to make important decisions about a child’s welfare. Note: Under Florida law, there is no such legal concept.  Florida Statutes define such rights as part of Parental Responsibility and Timesharing.

Marital Assets or Marital Property
Generally, property acquired during the marriage.

Mediation
A form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for resolving legal disputes without going to trial, by the use of a trained and impartial third party who attempts to bring the parties together in mutual agreement.

Non-Marital Property
Generally, property owned by either spouse prior to marriage or acquired by them individually during the marriage by gift or inheritance.

Parenting P​lan
A legal document crafted by the parties or the court in a family law matter which confirms the parties’ parental responsibility and timesharing with respect to their minor children.

Petitioner
Often, the person who initiates legal proceedings in divorce or other family law matters, also called the plaintiff.

Plaintiff
The person who initiates legal proceedings, often called the petitioner in family law matters.

Premarital Agreement
An agreement entered into before marriage that sets forth each party’s rights and responsibilities should the marriage terminate by death or divorce. Also called a prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial Agreement
An agreement entered into before marriage that sets forth each party’s rights and responsibilities should the marriage terminate by death or divorce. Also called a premarital agreement.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
Pronounced “kwah-dro,” an order issued by the court to divide retirement benefits.

Respondent
The person who answers a petition in a legal proceeding, sometimes also referred to as the defendant.

Restraining Order
An order issued by the court requiring the subject of the order to refrain from doing something, often issued in conjunction with domestic violence or custody disputes.

Settlement Conference
A meeting at which the parties and their lawyers attempt to settle the case before trial.

Spousal Support or Maintenance
Financial payments made to help support a spouse or former spouse during separation or following divorce. Also called Alimony.

Stipulation
An agreement entered into by parties to a legal proceeding that settles some or all of the issues between them, which is deemed to be binding upon them in future proceedings with regard to the matters contained in the stipulation.

Timesharing
The allocation of time that a child spends with each of his or her parents during a separation or following a divorce.  Under Florida Statutes, timesharing arrangements are confirmed by the court in a Parenting Plan.

Visitation
The time that a noncustodial parent spends with his or her child(ren).  Note: Florida Statutes no longer uses the term to define the rights of parents with respect to children in family law matters.  See Timesharing.

© Findlaw.com with notes and modifications for Florida law purposes by Be Better Partners

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