Family Court in Dade County
Contact information for the Judges in the Family Court
The website for the Court of Appeals for the Florida District Court
How long does a divorce take?
It depends on various factors. Typically the cases that do not involve children, property or liabilitiy are disposed of much quicker at times in as little as three-weeks from the date the court documents are filed with the court. The more factors involved in the case may contribute in extending the disposition of the case, such as if the case involves children, property and liabilities. Another important factor that may significantly increase the length of time for a divorce is if the divorce is contested.
If I am the Petitioner do I have to appear at the Final Hearing in order to get the divorce?
Yes. If you are the Petitioner in the case, you have to go to appear at the Final Hearing, in order to testify as to the allegations in your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage before the Judge. At the Final Hearing, the Petitioner will need to either bring a state issued identification or Affidavit of Corroborating Witness, in order for the court to be able to find that this state has jurisdiction over the case. However, your spouse does not need to appear to the Final Hearing, if the spouse is not contesting the divorce.
How is the child support obligation amount established by the court?
In order to calculate the parties’ child support obligation, the parties first need to complete and file with the court their respective Family Law Financial Affidavit. Then the parties may proceed to complete file with the court their proposed Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. The Guidelines will show what each parties’ child support obligation will be for the parties minor children.
How long are parents obligated to support their children?
According to Florida Statute 743.27 the parents obligation to support the child is ends when the child turns eighteen-years old. However, if the child is still in high school at the age of eighteen, then the parent has an obligation to continue to support the child until the child is nine-teen years old and will graduate by nineteen years of age. If the child has a disability, then the parents child support may be extended.
Parental Responsibility (formerly known as “Legal Custody”) is defined in Chapter 61.046(17 and 18).
You can find Chapter 61 of the Florida Statute at:
Shared Parental Responsibility-both parents retain full parental rights and responsibilities with regard to their children and confer to make mutual decisions about the children. A statutory presumption exists that Shared Parental Responsibility is in the best interest of the minor children. F.S. 61.13(2)(c) 2
Sole Parental Responsibility-is a court-ordered relationship in which one parent makes decisions regarding the minor child.
Sole Parental Responsibility presumptively is not in the child’s best interest, given the public policy expressed in F.S. 61.13. In awarding Sole Parental Responsibility, the statute requires a finding, supported by competent substantial evidence, that Shard Parental Responsibility would be detrimental to the child. F.S. 61.13(2)(c)2
Ultimate Parental Responsibility-is an alternative to Sole Parental Responsibility in a case in which there is insufficient evidence to support a finding of detrimental to the child and award of Sole Parental Responsibility may lie in F.S. 61.13(2)(c)2a, which allows the court to grant to one party the ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare or … divide those responsiblities between the parties based on the best interest of the child. Issues for which Ultimate Responsibility may be granted include religious training, school choices, or medical care and treatment.
Regardless of the designation of parental responsibility, access to records and information pertaining to a minor child, including, but not limited to, medical, dental and school records, may not be denied to either parent. Each parent has the same rights as to form, substance, and manner of access. F.S. 61.13(2)(c)3
A document created to govern the relationship between the parents, relating to decisions that must be made regarding the minor child and must contain a Time-Sharing Schedule for the parents and child. F.S. 61.046(14)
Time-Sharing Schedule (formerly known as “Visitation or Primary Residence”)
A Time-Sharing Schedule is a timetable that must be included in the Parenting Plan, which specifies the time, including overnights and holidays, that a minor child will spend with each parent. F.S. 61.046(23)
In the state of Florida a divorce is initiated with the filing of a Petition for Dissolutoin of Marriage and remitting the requisite filing fee in the amount of $409.00 (waived with an approved Civil Indigent Status Application) with the Clerk of Court. Along with the Petition, the court may also require additional documents, such as a Required Information form, Uniform Child Custody Affidavit (if children are involved), Notice of Social Security, Notice of Related Cases, etc.
Uncontested Divorce: the way a divorce is initiated in the state of Florida is by filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage with the Clerk of Court. An Uncontested Divorce can occur in two ways:
1. By mutual agreement of the parties in which the parties submit a Marital Settlement Agreement to the court and/or the opposing
party (your spouse) files an Answer and Waiver.
2. If a spouse is served with the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, but the recipient spouse fails to file a formal response
(an Answer) within twenty-days as required by the law. After the twenty-days expire, the Petitioner may proceed to file a Motion for
Default with the Clerk of Court. Once the Default is filed with the Clerk of Court, the Petitioner can then proceed to schedule the Final
Hearing with the Judicial Assistant.
In both these situations, there are no issues for the court to rule upon and the divorce is granted.
Contested Divorce: (litigated divorce) a divorce is contested if the recipient spouse files an Answer to the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage whereby there is a denial to one or more allegations to the Petition. The recipient spouse may add a Counterpetition to the Answer, in order to request his/her own reliefs from the court. Therefore, even if the Answer admits all the allegations to the Petition, a Counterpetition will make the divorce contested.
Our office assists Fathers in establishing their paternity rights over a child born out-of-wedlock (illegitimate) in such areas as: Time-sharing, Parental Responsibility and name-change of the child to adopt the Father’s surname.
A Father of an illegitimate child may apply to the court for the establishment of his paternity rights by filing a Verified Petition to Determine Paternity with the Clerk of Court.
Florida Statute 742.011″Determination of paternity proceedings; jurisdiction.—Any woman who is pregnant or has a child, any man who has reason to believe that he is the father of a child, or any child may bring proceedings in the circuit court, in chancery, to determine the paternity of the child when paternity has not been established by law or otherwise.”.
If the parties mutually agree to enter into a Paternity Agreement, the entire case may be resolved without the necessity of an appearance at court.
Our office also assists Fathers with cases in the Child Support Enforcement Office, involving Title IV-D cases (those being enforced by the Department of Revenue under Florida Statute 409.256).
A Parenting Plan-the court approves or grants a parenting plan that delineates how the parents delineates how the parents will share parental responsibilities and includes a time-sharing schedule, see Florida Statute 61.046.
We work with other attorneys that handles these types of cases. Please contact our office for more information.