Tampa Family Court Process
The process for any family legal matter in Tampa is pretty much the same as the process followed by most Florida courthouses. Understanding the steps will lower the stress that comes along any situation involving the court system.
1 – Family Court Documents
This is where it all gets started. Nothing happens in a Florida court without the proper paperwork, completed accurately and signed properly. Did you know that for a simple divorce in mutual agreement without a court hearing there are 12 documents that need to be filed? Do you know which ones are they? If you go to the Tampa family court they will sell you a pack of forms for $25, however half of the forms you will not need because they include those that you would only need if you do not know where your spouse lives. You can also get the forms for free here.
Not very useful.
Also, did you know that the petitioner must sign at the same time or before the respondent? If the respondent signs before the petitioner then the signatures are invalid and must be resigned and notarized.
On the topic of notarization, the forms must be notarized when required, no exceptions. Many notaries charge $5 to $10 per seal per paper. There are 8 forms in a simple divorce in mutual agreement that would need notarizations. A divorce with minor children require 13 notarizations.
2 – Filing and the Fees
After the documents are completed, signed and notarized then it’s time to file. There are 2 options, walk them in and handle them to the clerk of court or efile them. To walk them in you will need to make copies of the documents, at least one set.
If the divorce is by summons you will need to make an additional copy of the summons, petition, financial affidavit and if the divorce is with children copies of the proposed parenting plan and child support guidelines form. After having it stamped by the clerk you will need to bring them to the sheriff’s office or private process server with money to pay for their service. If your ex lives in another county or state then the documents will need to be mailed to the local sheriff or sent to a private process server where he or she lives along with the proper fees. Divorce documents CANNOT be handed over by just anyone, it must be someone with authority to do so.
The court filing fee will vary depending on the type of legal process. A divorce in Florida filing fees typically costs around $408 to $409. Many people qualify for a court filing fee waiver called Application for Indigent Status. If approved the court filing fee is waived 100%.
3 – Getting the Final Judgement
This part of the process will depend heavily on the disposition of the petitioner and respodent. If they both signed all the documents from the start AND they requested a NO COURT HEARING DIVORCE then all that’s left to do is receive the final judgement in the mail in 30-45 days.
If only the petitioner signed and the respondent got served a summons, then a hearing request must be filed after 2o calendar days of the respondent receiving the documents.
If there are children involved and the respondent was served documents most likely the case will be referred to mediation automatically. Wait for a notice, if you do not receive anything from the court file a request for hearing.
Also if there are minor children both parents must do a parenting class. If the case was filed in Hillsborough county then the class cannot be done online unless you live outside of the State of Florida.