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Simplified & General Divorce



HELPFUL INFORMATION:
  • Simplified Divorce
  • General Divorce
  • USEFUL LINKS:

    A DIVORCE IS A LEGAL ACTION FILED BY
    a married person or persons to end the marital relationship between a husband and wife. In addition to restoring the parties to single status, the Court can issue orders for: spousal support; custody, visitation and child support for the minor children of the marriage; and the division any shared property assets and debts.

    In the State of Florida, there are two methods for filing divorce.

    • A SIMPLIFIED DIVORCE MAY BE APPROPRIATE WHEN
      • You or your spouse have been a resident of the State of Florida for at least the past six (6) months.
      • You and your spouse are both able to appear at the Clerk of the Court’s Office to both file the necessary forms to initiate the divorce action and to attend the final hearing in person.
      • There are no children together born before or during the marriage, including by adoption, and the Wife, to her knowledge, is not pregnant as of the date the action is filed.
      • You and your spouse are in agreement on how property, assets and debts are to be divided.
    • A GENERAL DIVORCE MAY BE APPROPRIATE WHEN
      • You have been a resident of the State of Florida for at least the past six months.
      • Your spouse resides out of state or you do not know your spouse's whereabouts.
      • There is a minor (under age 18) or dependent child of the marriage or the Wife is pregnant.
      • You and your spouse cannot agree on how property, assets and debts are to be divided.
      • There is a need for spousal support (alimony).
    Please note:
    DEPUTY CLERKS CANNOT GIVE YOU ADVICE
    on your rights and obligations. Divorce can be a complicated area of the law. If you have any questions or concerns, you should consider contacting an attorney.

    YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO RETAIN AN ATTORNEY to file a Divorce; however you may desire to consult with an attorney if you or your spouse have any questions concerning the use of the Family Law forms or your legal rights prior to filing for a Simplified or General Divorce.

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    Simplified Divorce
    Also known as "Simplified Dissolution of Marriage"

    A SIMPLIFIED DIVORCE IS a simple, inexpensive means of ending a marriage for those couples who meet certain eligibility requirements (listed below). If you do not qualify for a Simplified Divorce, you may wish to consult an attorney about the requirements for filing a General Divorce .

    IN ORDER TO FILE FOR A SIMPLIFIED DIVORCE:

    • YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE MUST APPEAR TOGETHER at any one of the three Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court Offices' Civil Court Records departments (Clearwater Courthouse, North County Branch, St. Petersburg Branch) and jointly file the paperwork.
    • EITHER YOU OR YOUR SPOUSE MUST HAVE RESIDED in the State of Florida for at least the past six months. You will be required to provide proof of residency. Proof of residency may be shown by a valid Florida driver license, a Florida voter's registration card or the affidavit of a third party.
    • BOTH YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE MUST AGREE that the marriage cannot be saved.
    • THERE MAY BE NO MINOR (UNDER AGE 18) or DEPENDENT CHILDREN of the marriage and the wife cannot be pregnant.
    • BOTH YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE MUST MUTUALLY AGREE on how property, assets and debts are to be divided.
    FORMS FOR FILING A SIMPLIFIED DIVORCE ARE AVAILABLE from the Clerk's Office and the Clerk’s Self Help Centers for a fee or may be obtained from the Sixth Judicial Circuit's website, http://www.jud6.org, for free.

    NOTARY SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE CLERK’S OFFICE FOR A FEE*.

    YOU MAY OBTAIN COPIES OF DOCUMENTS you are filing at the Clerk’s Office for a FEE*.

    THE FILING FEES FOR SIMPLIFIED DIVORCES are set by Florida Statute and Pinellas County Ordinances, and are subject to change. The filing fee is due at the time of filing your Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage at the Clerk’s Office.

    A HEARING TO FINALIZE YOUR SIMPLIFIED DIVORCE WILL BE SCHEDULED at the earliest possible date dependent upon the court's schedule. The hearing will be scheduled by a Deputy Clerk upon the filing of the paperwork and requires the in-person consent of both parties. The hearing must be at least twenty-one (21) days from the date the paperwork is filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Both you and your spouse are required to attend the hearing; if one of you is not present, your case will be subject to dismissal and you will have lost your filing fee. There are no refunds of fees.

    IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR MARRIAGE CAN BE SAVED, you should investigate all possible ways to save it before you file for a Simplified Divorce. If, after filing for a Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, you believe your marriage can be saved and the divorce avoided, you and your spouse may file a Motion to Dismiss the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage. Both parties are required to come into the Clerk's Office and both must sign the Motion. You may file such a motion by completing a generic motion form, titling it Motion to Dismiss the Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, and submitting it to the Clerk’s Office. Please note, you will not recover your filing fees or any court costs once your case has been filed if your case is dismissed.

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    General Divorce
    Also known as "Dissolution of Marriage With Children" or "Dissolution of Marriage With No Minor Children"

    FORMS and INSTRUCTIONS FOR FILING A GENERAL DIVORCE ARE AVAILABLE from the Clerk's Office and the Clerk’s Self Help Centers for a fee. These forms, Dissolution of Marriage with Minor Children or for on the Sixth Judicial Circuit's website (www.jud6.org).

    BEFORE FILING YOUR FORMS with the Clerk's Office you should:

    • Have your forms notarized where applicable.
    • Make a set of copies for your records.
    • Make a set of copies to have served on your spouse, who we will refer to as "the Respondent".

    YOU MAY HAVE YOUR FORMS NOTARIZED AT THE CLERK’S OFFICE FOR A FEE if you are unable to obtain the services of a notary prior to filing.

    YOU MAY OBTAIN COPIES OF DOCUMENTS you are filing at the Clerk’s Office for a FEE.

    THE FILING FEES FOR A GENERAL DIVORCE are set by Florida Statute and Pinellas County Ordinances, and are subject to change. The filing fee is due at the time of filing your "Petition for Dissolution of Marriage" at the Clerk’s Office.

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    Service of Process

    SERVICE OF FAMILY LAW SUMMONSES along with copies of the papers you are filing upon the Respondent will be required. To have the summons served, you will need to contract with a Private Process Server, click here for a list of Pinellas County appointed process servers.

    THE RESPONDENT MAY WAIVE THE SERVICE REQUIREMENT by filing an Answer and Waiver of Service notarized and specifically stating that they are waiving the required twenty (20) day waiting period.

    IF THE RESPONDENT LIVES OUTSIDE PINELLAS COUNTY and you desire that the Clerk’s Office forward your Family Law Summonses and copies of the papers you are filing to the Sheriff’s Office of the county in which the respondent lives or the private process server you are having serve the papers, you must provide the Clerk’s Office with the appropriate fee for service and an envelope with appropriate postage for mailing.

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    Answering the Petition

    ONCE SERVED the respondent will have twenty (20) calendar days to respond in writing to your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

    IF THE RESPONDENT FILES THE NECESSARY RESPONDING PAPERWORK the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter.

    • The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court.
    • The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court's signature.
    IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO LOCATE THE RESPONDENT to have them personally served you will be required to have them served by constructive service (also referred to as service by publication). The service will be published in the newspaper of your choice for a period of thirty (30) calendar days and you will be billed for the publication. Constructive service forms and instructions are available on the Sixth Judicial Circuit’s website.

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    Default

    IF THE RESPONDENT DOES NOT FILE AN ANSWER within the required waiting period of 20 calendar days, you may file a Motion for Default and Default form. You may then complete your divorce proceedings without the participation of the Respondent.

    ONCE A DEFAULT IS ENTERED or THE RESPONDENT FILES THEIR ANSWER, YOU MAY SCHEDULE YOUR HEARING BY contacting the Family Law Division at (727) 582-7200. The hearing will be scheduled on the earliest possible date dependent upon the court's schedule. You will be required to fill out and file a Notice of Hearing form upon contacting the Family Law Division and must provide the original to the Clerk’s Office and a copy to the Respondent.

    If you have any further questions you may contact one of the offices below, or the one of the Self Help Centers.

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    Divorce petitions and other related paperwork, may be filed and additional information is available at any of the following Clerk's Office locations. Please Note: For faster and more efficient service all paperwork being mailed should be sent to the Civil Court Records address.

    For more information call (727) 464-7000


    CIVIL COURT RECORDS
    315 Court Street, Room 170
    Clearwater, FL 33756

    NORTH COUNTY BRANCH OFFICE
    29582 U.S. 19 North
    Clearwater, FL 33761

    ST. PETERSBURG BRANCH OFFICE
    Room 101
    545 First Avenue North
    St. Petersburg, FL 33701

    Office hours for these and all Clerk's locations may be found here.

    Persons with disablilities requiring reasonable accommodations to use the services provided should call (727) 464-4062 (TDD or Voice). Please call 24 hours prior to coming to the courthouse.

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    *The current fees may be determined by calling one of the offices listed at the bottom of the page or by referring to the current "Schedule of Services Charges" brochure available online or in any one of the Clerk's Offices.

    Ken Burke, Clerk of the Circuit Court
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