Florida Divorce Process
When you’re facing a divorce, knowing what to expect during the divorce process will make it easier to navigate the days and months ahead—you won’t be thrown off course by an unexpected requirement or proceeding. At The Law Offices of Sean Smallwood, P.A., we provide advice and representation through all the steps and stages of divorce in Florida, and you can call us at any point during your divorce for guidance, whether you’re only just considering divorce or you were attempting to handle your divorce yourself, but you haven’t been able to resolve necessary issues, such as custody or property division. Read on for more information about the divorce process in Florida, and call our Orlando divorce attorneys for help steering your divorce to a positive conclusion.
What to Expect During the Florida Divorce Process
In Florida, either spouse can file for divorce. The filing spouse must prove a marriage exists, one spouse has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition for divorce, and the marriage is irretrievably broken. (There is no fault-based divorce in Florida; however, the reason for the irretrievable breakdown may be considered under certain limited circumstances in the determination of alimony, property division, and the development of a parenting plan.) The length of time the divorce process takes depends on the type of divorce, the number of issues that must be resolved, and how busy the court is where the divorce is filed. Generally, you can expect an uncontested divorce to take about four to five weeks, while a contested divorce can take six months or longer. In counties where the courts are very busy, the divorce process can take a year or more.
Steps & Stages in the Florida Divorce Process
The divorce process officially begins with a petition for dissolution of marriage, filed with the circuit court in the county where you and your spouse last lived together or in a county where either of you now resides. The petition sets out what the filing spouse wants from the court and must be served to the other spouse. After being served, the other spouse must file an answer within 20 days, addressing the issues in the petition. The other spouse can also file a counter-petition for the dissolution of marriage, raising any additional issues that the spouse wants the court to address.
Within 45 days of the service of the initial petition for dissolution of marriage or several days before any temporary hearing, each spouse must provide certain financial documents and a completed financial affidavit to the other spouse. Failure to provide this information can result in the court dismissing the case or not considering that spouse’s requests. A child support guidelines worksheet must also be filed with the court at or before any hearing on child support.
For spouses who have already agreed on divorce issues, such as property division, alimony, and a parenting plan, you may enter into a written agreement that is signed by both spouses and then presented to the court. If this agreement is accepted by the court, it can be incorporated into the final judgment for divorce. If you and your spouse cannot agree on all issues, a final hearing is required. During the hearing, each spouse is given the opportunity to present evidence and testimony to a judge, who then makes the final decision on contested divorce issues.
Talk to an Experienced Orlando Family Law Attorney about the Divorce Process in Florida
The divorce process can be highly emotional and stressful for families—adults and children alike. Divorcing spouses often do not know their legal rights and obligations, and court rules must be strictly followed, or you could lose certain rights permanently. Florida court clerks and judges can answer some basic questions about divorce, but they cannot give legal advice. Only a Florida divorce attorney can do that, and only an experienced Florida divorce attorney can do it well. At The Law Offices of Sean Smallwood, P.A., we will analyze your unique situation and help you make decisions in your best interests while ensuring you meet all necessary legal requirements during the divorce process.