Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce and Paternity


People who are facing a a divorce or paternity case in the Florida courts, or those with domestic violence cases, often have the following questions:

Like the rest of the information provided on this site, this is NOT legal advice.

What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on how to resolve each and every issue between them.


Do I need the consent or agreement of my spouse to get a divorce?

Florida divorce law recognizes only two grounds for granting a divorce:

(1)  the marriage is irretrievably broken or

(2) a spouse is mentally incapacitated.

No need to say more on your divorce papers because consent to a divorce is not required.  But if your spouse agrees to the divorce, it does make the process faster because you avoid litigation.  It also gives you an opportunity to get the divorce done faster.  See also the question below on stopping a divorce.

Can I avoid  child support in Florida?

No.  Setting an amount of child support in Florida is obligatory,  and you can not avoid a determination of the amount of child support in divorce with children or paternity cases. See Child Support in Florida on this site.

How much does a divorce in Florida Cost?

The cost of a divorce or paternity case can be divided into two kinds, court costs and attorney fees. If you don’t’ have a lawyer representing you, you will no have to pay attorney’s fees.

The cost to file a divorce, effective July 2008 is $ 409.00.

There is no such things as a “free” divorce unless you do it yourself or qualify for legal aid.

How much does a paternity case cost?

In paternity cases, you have filing fees, $301, to pay to the clerk of the court.  If you use an attorney, you will, of course, have legal fees to pay.

What is a contested divorce?

A contested divorce is one where you and your spouse do not agree on one or more issues or questions.  When you both cannot agree as to everything that needs to be decided to dissolve the marriage, then the only one that make the decision will be the judge.  To turn a divorce from contested to uncontested, both you and your spouse have to agree on everything.

Is there free legal representation in a divorce?

There is no right to a lawyer paid by the state or other official state entity in a divorce or paternity cases as these are civil cases, where no right to representation is provided by law. Important: This does not include domestic violence cases with  criminal charges for acts allegedly committed during a marriage.

There are many organizations that provide free legal services,  such as Legal Aid or some programs established by local bar associations. For a list of those programs, do a search online.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Florida?

In an uncontested divorce, it may take 2 to 3 weeks after the case is formally opened in court, depending on whether you use an attorney or use the Self-Help Centers.  If you want to learn about getting an uncontested divorce, with or without children, in about 3 weeks from the date of filing, find out at  or

In cases of  contested divorce (litigation) it is difficult to provide a time period as the factors that determine how long this process can take depend on the issues the parties are fighting about or disagree on.

How can I stop my divorce?  How can I save my marriage?

Technically speaking, as long as one of you wants to get a divorce, then the divorce will happen.

In my experience, this question comes up when one of the parties wants to save a marriage.  From the legal standpoint, a judge cannot prevent a divorce if the marriage is broken.  There is a provision in Chapter 61 which gives discretion to a judge to order the parties to consult with a qualified person (persons who are deemed qualified are listed in the statute itself) when there are minor children of the marriage or the respondent denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken.  The person appointed must be acceptable to the parties.  See Section 61.052(2)(b).

In the 25+ years I’ve been practicing, I’ve only had this situation in about 3 cases;  and they all ended in divorce anyway.

There is always time to file for divorce.  If you are intent on saving your marriage–especially if you have not  yet filed for divorce–then consider getting help and finding resources to help you save your marriage before you even see a divorce lawyer.

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