What is a Simple Divorce?
Nobody goes into a marriage with the intention of it ending; however, divorce is as much a reality in society as marriage itself. Divorce can be a complicated issue and it is not unusual for there to be some hiccups along the way. This process can be made easier by understanding that there are different categories of divorce. Understanding what category a couple's divorce falls into can help them be prepared as the process unfolds. If a divorce qualifies as a simple divorce, there are a few factors that the couple should keep in mind.Overview: A Simple Divorce
Some divorces can be expensive to resolve; however, a simplified divorce can be relatively inexpensive way of resolving a marriage. In order for a couple to qualify for a simplified divorce, there are a few requirements that need to be met. These include:
Children: A simplified divorce can have zero minor or dependent children. On the surface, this means children living in the home under the age of 18. Dependent children also cannot be born from the marriage; children brought into the marriage from prior relationships do not disqualify a divorce from being ruled "simple." The wife also cannot be pregnant.
Property: A division of property needs to be agreed to when the couple shows up to court for the first time. This agreement should be filed with the court as well.
Finances: The couple cannot have any financial obligations that are unresolved. This includes a spousal or child support obligation owed by one party to the other.
Residency: In the state of Florida, at least one of the two parties needs to have been a resident of the state for a minimum of six months before filing for a simplified divorce. The residency must also be corroborated by a witness.
Agreement: Both of the parties need to complete an agreement regarding the marital settlement. Such an agreement is often referred to as a Marital Settlement Agreement and it addresses all potential issues that may arise when a marriage is dissolving. For instance, it would specify the waiver of alimony. It also specifies how any property or debts will be divided by the parties.
If the marriage falls under these categories, the divorce can be "simplified." This can make the divorce process significantly smoother and, likely, less expensive. Normally, parties that are getting divorced are required to exchange financial documents with one another and create a Financial Affidavit. Financial disclosure includes bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, credit card statements and information relating to a business, if any. Parties obtaining a Simplified Divorce can waive that requirement for financial disclosure, thereby making the case proceed much quicker. The reason the requirement for financial disclosure can be waived is that parties that qualify for a Simplified Divorce should not have significant assets or debts, so, theoretically, there should not be much information to disclose.Help is Available
Even if the divorce will qualify as a simplified divorce, it is still a good idea to meet with an experienced attorney to ensure that nothing is overlooked. These could be complications along the way that can be difficult for the average person to work through. Perhaps a party believes their matter qualifies for a Simplified Divorce, but that is only because their spouse has kept him or her in the dark with respect to the marital estate and the parties’ finances. An attorney can help identify if assets and income are potentially being overlooked. In those situations, the party may not qualify for a Simplified Dissolution, but that party may benefit in the end because he or she may be entitled to distribution of assets or an alimony award. For this reason, do not hesitate to ask for help from a legal professional. Experienced attorneys know exactly what questions to ask and what to look for to determine if a case truly qualifies for a Simplified Divorce. Together, a decision can be made that is in the party's best interest.
Article updated September 16, 2020.