If I Settle My Divorce Case, No One Has To Go In Front Of A Judge. Right?

The majority of divorce cases filed in Florida do not make it all the way to a judge for the final decisions. Most reach a settlement between the husband and wife with the help of their attorneys.

When we get to the point where there has been full disclosure, negotiations between the sides and all of the decisions have been made, a common question that we hear is, “What’s next?” In an original divorce, you cannot just send a copy of the Marital Settlement Agreement (signed by the husband and wife) and a proposed Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage to the judge and ask the judge to sign it.

Florida family law requires that one spouse must be a “continuous bona fide resident of the State of Florida for at least six months immediately preceding the filing of a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.” In addition, the only ground for divorce in Florida is that the marriage be “irretrievably broken”. In order to receive a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, one of the spouses (not both) must appear live in front of the judge, be sworn in and testify under oath that the spouse has met the residency requirement, that the marriage is broken and can’t be fixed and tell the judge why it can’t be fixed.

The entire hearing to prove that you are entitled to a divorce takes about five minutes, but is required under Florida law.