Collier County Clerk of the Circuit Court
Civil Department – Family Law
3315 Tamiami Trail East, Ste. 102
Naples, FL 34112-5324
Phone: (239) 252-2646
Email: Family Law

 

Divorce

Filing a DissolutionTypes of Dissolutions

Dissolution of Marriage Information

Dissolution of Marriage is the legal term for divorce, which is a legal action filed by a married person or persons to end a marital relationship. Florida law orders which forms must be completed.

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 your legal rights prior to filing.

The Collier County Clerk of Courts provides a Self-Help Center for customers to use with specialized software that assembles documents with the information you enter. If utilizing this option, allow yourself enough time to complete all necessary documents on the computer no later than 5:00pm. There is no fee to use the Self-Help Center. Visit the video page for our Self-Help Center Video.

All necessary forms to file a Dissolution of Marriage can be found here on our website and on the Florida Supreme Court website.

After a dissolution of marriage (divorce or annulment) has been recorded with the Clerk of Circuit Court, the Clerk forwards a report to the Bureau of Vital Statistics for permanent filing. This process takes approximately 60 days.

Before filing your forms at the Clerk’s Office, you should know:

  • Forms requiring notarization MUST be signed in the presence of a Deputy Clerk or the notary. Do not sign in advance.
  • If you are e-Filing be sure to have your forms notarized if applicable.
  • Make a copy for your records.
  • Make a copy to have served on your spouse.

Service of Process

Service means giving a copy of the required papers to the other party using the procedure that the law requires. Service is required for all documents filed in your case.

The law requires that certain documents be served by personal service if personal service is possible. Personal service means that a summons and a copy of the forms you are filing with the court that must be personally served are delivered by a deputy sheriff or private process server. Personal service is required for all petitions. You cannot serve these papers on the other party yourself or by mail or hand delivery. Personal service must be made by the sheriff’s department in the county where the other party lives or works or by a private process server certified in the county where the other party lives or works. In many counties, there are private process servers who, for a fee, will personally serve the summons and other documents that require personal service. In Collier County, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office Civil Division is charged with the statutory responsibility of service. The Civil Office is open from 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday thru Friday with the exception of recognized holidays and is located at 3319 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, FL 34112. For service of process fees visit the CCSO’s site.

If the other party (respondent) lives in another county, service needs to be made by a sheriff in that county or by a private process server certified in that county. Make sure that you attach a copy of all the papers you filed that need personally served and include the Process Service Memorandum. You will need to provide the sheriff with a stamped envelope addressed to you. This will allow the sheriff to send the proof of service to you, after the sheriff serves your papers on the other party. You should file the proof of service with the clerk after you receive it from the sheriff. Also, you will need to find out how much the sheriff charges to serve the papers.

If the other party cannot be located or does not live in Florida, you have made a diligent effort to locate the other party and you absolutely cannot locate the other party, you may serve the other party by publication. Service by publication is also known as constructive service. However, Florida courts have limited jurisdiction over a party who is served by constructive service and may have only limited jurisdiction over a party living outside of Florida regardless of whether that party is served by constructive or personal service; that is, the judge’s power to order the other party to do certain things may be limited. For example, the judge may be able to grant your request for a divorce, but the judge may not be able to address issues such as child support, spousal support (alimony), or division of property or debts.

This area of the law is very complex.
You may need to consult with an attorney regarding the proper type of service to use if the other party does not live in Florida or cannot be located.

Answering the Petition

Once served, the respondent will have twenty (20) calendar days to respond in writing to your Petition.

If your spouse files an answer that agrees with everything in your petition or an answer and waiver then your case will proceed as uncontested. If you have complied with mandatory disclosure and filed all of the required papers, you may file a Notice for Trial to set the final hearing. You must notify your spouse of the hearing by using a Notice of Hearing (General), Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.923, or other appropriate notice of hearing form.

If your spouse files an answer or an answer and counterpetition which disagrees with or denies anything in your petition, your case will proceed as contested. You have 20 days to answer the counterpetition.

Default

If the other party has failed to file or serve any documents within 20 days after the date of service of your petition, you may ask the clerk of the circuit court to enter a default against him or her by filling out this form and filing it with the court. Generally, a default allows you to obtain an earlier final hearing to finish your case. Once the default is signed by the clerk, you can request a trial or final hearing in your case.

To obtain a default, you will need to complete and file a Motion for Default. Be sure to keep a copy for your records. Once the default is entered in your case you may then file your Notice for Trial.

The Judge’s office will review the file and schedule the final hearing accordingly. You will receive a Notice of Trial via US Mail (or email if you have completed the Designation of Current Mailing and E-mail Address) containing the court date.

Simplified Dissolution of Marriage

A married couple may obtain a divorce through the simplified dissolution procedure if all of the following statements are true about both spouses at the time that they jointly file a petition for simplified dissolution of marriage:

  1. You and your spouse agree that the marriage cannot be saved.
  2. You and your spouse have no minor or dependent child(ren) together, the wife does not have any minor or dependent children born during the marriage, and the wife is not now pregnant.
  3. You and your spouse have worked out how the two of you will divide the things that you both own (your assets) and who will pay what part of the money you both owe (your liabilities), and you are both satisfied with this division.
  4. You are not seeking support (alimony) from your spouse, and vice versa.
  5. You are willing to give up your right to trial and appeal.
  6. You and your spouse are both willing to go into the clerk’s office to sign the petition (not necessarily at the same time).
  7. You and your spouse are both willing to attend the final hearing (at the same time).
  8. Either you or your spouse has lived in Florida for 6 months prior to filing.

The hearing will be scheduled by a Deputy Clerk once both parties have signed the petition. 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 you fail to complete this procedure, the court may dismiss the case.

Dissolution of Marriage with Children

A married couple may obtain a divorce using this process if:

  1. You and your spouse have a dependent or minor child(ren) together or a spouse is pregnant.
  2. At least one of the parties has lived in Florida for 6 months prior to filing.

A parenting course must be completed by each party prior to entry of the final judgment. Visit the Florida Department of Children and Families website for approved parent education and family stabilization course providers.

Dissolution of Marriage with Property but No Children

A married couple may obtain a divorce using this process if:

  1. You and your spouse have marital assets and/or marital liabilities.
  2. You do not have any minor or dependent children and neither of you is pregnant.
  3. You or your spouse must have lived in Florida for 6 months prior to filing.

NOTE: If you and your spouse agree on all issues, neither is seeking spousal support (alimony) and you both can attend the hearing, you may want to file a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.

Dissolution of Marriage with No Children and No Property

A married couple may obtain a divorce using this process if:

  1. You and your spouse have no marital assets or marital liabilities.
  2. You and your spouse have no minor or dependent children.
  3. Spouse is not pregnant.
  4. Neither spouse is seeking spousal support (alimony).
  5. At least one of the parties has lived in Florida for 6 months prior to filing.

NOTE: If you and your spouse agree on all issues and you both can attend the hearing, you may want to file a Petition for Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.

 

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