Orlando Uncontested Divorce
Divorce is often portrayed as a long and complicated legal matter with Orlando divorce lawyers on both sides fighting in court—there is yelling, and people are crying.
But ending a marriage doesn’t have to be this way, and, in many cases, it’s not.
When both spouses agree their marriage isn’t working any longer, and they know how they want to handle separation issues, such as child custody, child support, and property division, there is the option for an uncontested divorce in Florida.
Table of Contents
- How to Get a Quick, Cheap Divorce in Florida
- What Is an Uncontested Divorce in Florida?
- Why Get an Uncontested Divorce?
- What is the Difference Between Uncontested and Contested Divorce?
- Uncontested Divorce in Florida: When Is It the Right Option?
- How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
- How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Florida
- Uncontested Divorce with Children, Alimony, or Other Issues
- Learn More About Uncontested Divorce in Florida
At The Law Offices of Sean Smallwood, P.A., we provide legal advice and representation in Orlando uncontested divorce cases because even though your separation may be uncontested, you still need to protect your rights and interests.
How to Get a Quick, Cheap Divorce in Florida
For some uncontested divorce cases, Florida law offers a process called a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage,” which is much cheaper and faster than other types of marital separations.
With this process, a couple can generally finalize their separation in about a month from the time the petition is filed, so long as there is total agreement on the terms of the uncontested divorce.
In addition to both spouses agreeing to use the Simplified Dissolution of Marriage process, the couple cannot have any dependent children, the wife cannot be pregnant, and no alimony can be involved.
Additionally, at least one of the spouses must have lived in Florida for six months prior to filing, and both spouses must agree the marriage is irretrievably broken.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce in Florida?
We have all heard the stories of marital separations that lasted for multiple years, cost thousands of dollars, and destroyed the lives of the parties involved.
But, is that the story of every case? The answer is no, in fact, many are accomplished every day in a peaceful and agreeable manner known as an uncontested divorce.
The general definition among most family law attorneys for an uncontested divorce is a dissolution of marriage where both parties are in complete agreement on all relevant legal issues.
This means that there are no items at all that the parties are disagreeing on, the parties can put their settlement agreement into a written format, at which point a court judge may enter a final judgment of dissolution.
This is quite different from a traditional contested separation where, at the beginning, the parties may disagree on several issues including custody and time-sharing of children, the division of assets, payment of debts, child support, alimony, and many other items.
An uncontested divorce is a viable and recommended option only when you and your spouse have found consensus on such issues as:
- Division of marital property and debt
- Child-related aspects of the divorce (custody, child support, parenting plans, and visitation)
If you opt for an uncontested divorce, all aspects of the dissolution will be outlined in your marital settlement agreement.
Why Get an Uncontested Divorce?
There are many reasons that an uncontested divorce is preferable over a contested separation.
These reasons include but are not limited to the cost of litigation, emotional trauma caused to the parties, the emotional stress caused to children involved in the case, the length of time of the case, and damage to the party’s ability to co-parent the children after the case is concluded.
The first of these, the cost of litigation, is probably the foremost reason most people consider resolving their marital disputes peacefully rather than through conflict.
Legal professionals charge fees based on the time devoted to a client’s case and the amount of work necessary. The longer a case goes on and the more the parties fight, the more money will be charged.
Therefore, the best way to avoid excessive legal fees is to settle the matter quickly on an uncontested basis.
The second reason that uncontested divorce is preferred is to minimize the emotional trauma caused to the parties.
This aspect often surprises people during the separation process. Many do not realize the physical and emotional strain that the process can inflict.
It is extremely common for litigants to require ongoing therapy and, in some cases, people can develop long-term anxiety and other emotional damage stemming from the separation process.
The third reason that uncontested divorce should be sought is to minimize the emotional stress caused to children involved in the case.
Though any responsible loving parent would work hard to shield the children from any knowledge or exposure to the divorce process, most children are able to pick up on the stress and anxiety coming from their parents and often unintentionally are placed in the middle of their parents’ conflict during the divorce.
If the parties can bring their dissolution of marriage to a quicker resolution, they can greatly minimize the risk of stress on their children.
The fourth reason stated above for parties to seek an uncontested divorce is to preserve their ability to get along peacefully in the future so that they can work together in raising their children.
Family court judges are very quick to point out to high-conflict litigants that there are going to be birthdays, school graduations, weddings, and holidays, where their children are going to want both parents to be there.
Further, if the parents cannot stand to be in the same room with each other then they will always force their children to be stuck in the middle of the conflict which will continue to cause unnecessary stress on children and lead to emotional trauma and unhealthy relationships throughout their adult years.
Sean Smallwood is a family law and divorce lawyer in Orlando Florida, and he places an emphasis in every single dissolution of marriage case on attempting to resolve the case peacefully before ever allowing the case to see the inside of a courtroom.
If your desire is to resolve your case on an uncontested basis, contact our office today. We also serve the entire Orlando area and have been rated one of the top divorce lawyers in Doctor Phillips. We also help clients in other cities such as our top-rated Lake Nona divorce lawyer.
What is the Difference Between Uncontested and Contested Divorce?
Where an uncontested divorce is based on the idea that both parties agree on all major issues regarding dissolving the marriage a contested divorce is appropriate when this is not the case.
Very often with uncontested divorces the parties may begin the process on an uncontested basis and begin to disagree on certain issues along the way.
This can certainly lead to increased legal fees for the client as well as litigation. Additionally, many parties think separating will allow them to be taken advantage of because they hold out an unrealistic hope of doing it “uncontested” and trying to save a few dollars.
An Orlando uncontested divorce attorney can guide you through the steps of an uncontested divorce.
Building on the work described above, a contested divorce occurs when the parties seeking to separate are in disagreement on any issue in the case.
Some examples of often contested issues are:
- Division of Assets
- Use of Marital Home
- Child Custody
- Payment of legal Fees & child support to name only a few
In most jurisdictions, parties who choose a contested divorce will also have to exchange a certain amount of financial discovery, as set forth in the Florida statute, such as recent tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, and more.
This allows the court and the attorneys to get an accurate snapshot of each party’s financial posture in order to properly figure things such as support payments and/or division of assets.
After the parties complete this process of financial discovery, most circuits will require them to attend mediation before they can set any non-emergency matters for hearings that would require any testimony.
If the parties are not able to settle their disputed issues at mediation, then they can do additional discovery and set the matter for trial in front of the judge.
Uncontested Divorce in Florida: When Is It the Right Option?
When both spouses agree that their marriage is not working and they have found some middle ground on various aspects such as child custody, property division, alimony, and child support, the spouses can opt for an uncontested divorce.
Schedule a private consultation with the office of Sean Smallwood, P.A., to determine whether your issues can be resolved out of court and identify the optimal strategy for obtaining the most favorable outcome.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
If a divorce petition along with the necessary paperwork were filed, final judgment would be entered about 30 days after the filing date.
Under Florida law, a final judgment cannot be entered for at least 20 days from filing. If you chose the “no hearing” option when filing, neither you nor your spouse would need to appear in front of a judge in court.
In fact, you will not even have to visit the judge or clerk’s office to obtain a copy of the final judgment as the document will be sent to your home address.
How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in Florida
To start the process of an uncontested divorce, you are required to file a petition for divorce.
Your legal representation will access and fill out the forms for you to ensure that all of the necessary forms are completed.
Once you have filed the petition with your county clerk’s office, copies of the court forms submitted by you must be served to the other spouse.
The other spouse must file a response after the papers are served. If there is no response, the case goes to the judge by default.
At this point, both spouses must exchange financial information about their assets, property, and debts. The presence of a property division lawyer is recommended when dividing up your property and debt to ensure the most favorable and fair outcome.
The uncontested divorce is granted after both spouses have reached a settlement agreement approved by the judge.
Uncontested Divorce with Children, Alimony, or Other Issues
Not all uncontested divorces qualify for the Simplified Dissolution of Marriage process.
If you have children or you’re expecting to pay or receive alimony, you must go through the regular Florida divorce process.
However, it can still be relatively quick and painless if you and your soon-to-be-former spouse agree on child custody, you create a parenting plan that meets Florida’s parenting plan requirements, and you work out a fair and reasonable alimony arrangement.
If you and your soon-to-be-former spouse do not agree on a certain aspect of your separation, but you still see eye-to-eye on most issues, you can try mediation to resolve the issue and ultimately stay the course for an uncontested divorce.
Learn More About Uncontested Divorce in Florida
Simply because the end of your marriage is uncontested, that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from consulting with an experienced Florida family law attorney.
The necessary forms can be confusing, and once they are entered into court, they can’t be altered.
The Simplified Dissolution of Marriage process also eliminates your right to a trial or an appeal. Make sure your rights and interests are protected before you file when you still have the option to engage and negotiate. Contact Sean Smallwood, P.A. to discuss your needs and concerns.
Ending a marriage is a very difficult life event to deal with. This is made significantly more traumatic when the parties to the case cannot agree on major legal issues in the case. For this reason, it is important to use your most diligent efforts to obtain an uncontested divorce whenever possible.
How Fast Do You Need to Settle Your Case?
One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make is when they try too hard to settle their case before the time is right.
The most common scenario we see is when one spouse will talk to the other spouse about whatever their burning issue is trying to reach a verbal agreement before the case is filed, lawyers are involved, or anyone is even ready to put an agreement in writing.
Let’s use the example of a split involving alimony. Though I am using a Husband in an alimony case for this example it can easily be switched with a Wife in another type of case such as child custody.
In this example, nobody has hired divorce attorneys and the parties have only recently started discussing breaking up. The Husband desperately wants to settle the issue of alimony because he has heard horror stories about men in his position being raked over the coals.
The Husband constantly harasses the Wife with verbal proposals on what he is willing to pay for alimony and ultimately offers to pay $1,000.00 per month in alimony and that this was the highest amount that he could agree to.
Remember: Verbal Agreements Rarely Mean Anything
The problem here is that the Husband gave the other party too much information about his bottom line. When the Wife tells her lawyer that the Husband is willing to pay $1,000.00 per month the lawyer is going to view that as the starting point for negotiation and will set their mind on obtaining an amount higher than that.
Even though the Husband’s intention was for $1,000.00 to be the highest amount he could pay, it is a safe bet that the opposing lawyer will not see it that way. The Husband gave away too much information early in the case about what he was willing to pay and by doing that he lost a lot of his negotiating power on that legal issue.
What Information Do You Need From Your Spouse About Settlement Terms?
What the Husband in this hypothetical situation should have done was to ask the wife some gentle, open-ended, but probing questions to find out what her expectations were on the issue of alimony.
He could have asked her questions such as, “how much do you think you deserve?”, or “ How much do you think I can afford to pay?”, and even “What do you believe would be a reasonable amount of alimony in this case?”
That is the point where the Husband should take those answers and sit down with an Orlando divorce attorney and draft a comprehensive settlement agreement to present to the Wife for her review and signature.
In summary, one of the biggest mistakes that we see people make in negotiations is trying to settle the case verbally with their spouse too early in the process. Instead of gathering information and then sitting down with their legal advisor to craft a proposed settlement, they give away too much information that takes away their negotiating power and makes the case ultimately more difficult for them.
If you are going through a marriage break up in central Florida then call Sean Smallwood, P.A. today to schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer to discuss your rights today. We serve all areas of Orlando, FL.
What if I Can’t Control My Spouse?
I know what you’re saying here. “But Sean, I can do all the feel-good stuff I want but what if my spouse is going crazy?”
This is absolutely correct you cannot control your spouse but what you can control is the example that you set for them as well as whether or not you choose to pour gasoline on the flames of their emotions through this process.
What I mean is this, if you’re both spinning out of control emotionally you are both basically pouring fuel on the emotional flames of each other and perpetually increasing the conflict more and more each day.
But what if only one of you was emotionally out of control while the other was completely calm, rational, polite, and reasonable? In that situation, you are going to have far less conflict and far greater odds of peace in your case.
How Do I Choose the Right Representation?
Aside from the reasons stated above, the second biggest cause of conflict in divorce is choosing the wrong representation.
This professional is in a position of great trust for most clients.
Divorcing parties look to their legal advisors for guidance on what is fair and equitable under the law and what to ask about in an uncontested divorce.
Unfortunately, many attorneys understand that their advice can greatly impact the profitability of the case for themselves.
Here’s an example: let’s say your spouse sends over a settlement proposal and you think, “I might agree to this with a few small tweaks”. However, your representative jumps up and says, “Oh no, absolutely not. There is no way I’m letting you agree to this, it is total nonsense.”
This is a very common occurrence. The problem is that the more the case litigates, the more money the representative makes. The less it litigates, the less they make.
There are times when a case should litigate, but you are not in a position to know the difference and you must find someone you can trust to have your best interest in mind.
Having your best interest in mind goes further than just fighting for every possible dime.
What most fail to recognize is the value in an early settlement. The time and emotional energy saved by settling early has value to many. It’s hard to put an exact price on it, however, many would rather leave that dime on the table than get 500 gray hairs fighting over it.
That’s the part many in this profession overlook, and if they are not making clients aware of this, then this is a red flag.
When consulting with a professional, ask about their settlement rate. If it’s 50% or more, that is good; 75% or more, even better.
If their settlement rate is less than 50%, it’s a sign that you are talking to someone who does not understand the value of settling cases. If it’s 25% or less, then you are talking to someone not open-minded to settlement, and this person is probably not a good fit for you.
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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “My divorce case started against long odds, and Sean let me know that. But he dedicated himself to getting the most favorable outcome possible. I felt confident in his handling of the case as he always kept me informed and made himself available for any concerns I had. He also treated me as more than just another case number. but was genuinely concerned about me leading up to and during the hearing. I feel blessed to have had Sean as my attorney and would not hesitate to recommend him to family and friends.” –Paul W.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Sean and his team were a blessing, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been able to be a part of my children’s lives, I will forever be grateful for them. I went from being able to only see them a few hours a week to 50/50 custody. Thank you so much.” –Kurt E.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Sean Smallwood is someone I would highly recommend if you’re going through a custody case. His team is dedicated and share the same vision…. The end result was more than I had expected in a great way. I would definitely refer him to friends and family.” –Charlie C.
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