Divorce is one of the greatest stressors a person can experience during their lifetime. As such, many divorcing couples wish to complete the process as quickly as possible in order to get back to their lives with minimal disruption. Fortunately, spouses who educate themselves on the associated legal process of dissolving their marriage can help to streamline this process and prepare for what is to come.
In the state of Florida, the divorce process is governed by several strict statutes and court procedures which break it down into a series of well-defined and predictable stages. While the exact length of your divorce will vary depending on whether your separation is contested or uncontested, in general, most separations take anywhere from 3 to 17 months from beginning to end.
Most divorces in Florida involve the following steps:
- Filing a petition: A divorce begins when one or both spouses file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” with the county circuit court where at least one party resides. This document will state the reason why the filing spouse wishes to divorce and a basic guideline of how they wish to solve the main issues of the divorce, such as child custody or other family-related issues. Depending on the circumstances, spouses will also be required to file a financial affidavit or a marital settlement agreement. Financial affidavits must be submitted by both parties within 45 days of the petition being served.
- Responding to the petition: If only one spouse filed a divorce petition, the other spouse will be given 20 days from being served with divorce papers to respond, either by agreeing to its terms or contesting them. Any additional issues should be included in a counter-petition and submitted to the court.
- Prepare for a divorce hearing: Once initial pleadings are filed, the involved parties will need to prepare for a divorce hearing through a process known as discovery. This will involve preparing financial disclosures, exchanging information, and utilizing record subpoenas and depositions in order for each side to build a compelling case. This duration of this stage will largely depend on how quickly each spouse identifies and provides the necessary documents, as well as whether or not either spouse is caught attempting to hide assets from the other.
- Attending mediation: Mediation is required in all Florida divorces and involves both parties coming together with the assistance of a neutral third party to attempt to reach a collaborative solution to their separation, thereby ending the process more quickly. Likewise, mediated divorces are usually far less costly and can help reduce tensions between spouses. If a divorce is successfully mediated and all issues are solved, the agreement is immediately filed with the court, after which both spouses must arrange a final court hearing. If an agreement cannot be reached, the divorce proceeds towards trial.
Speak With a Knowledgeable Boca Raton Divorce Attorney
Regardless of the specifics, if you are approaching a divorce, it is important you consult with a knowledgeable legal professional to ensure your rights are protected and determine the most appropriate course of action. At Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC, our Boca Raton divorce lawyers have more than 75 years of combined legal experience and can guide you and your spouse step-by-step towards an amicable solution for your divorce.
Call (561) 336-6082 or contact our office online to find out more about what our team of Board Certified family law attorneys can do for you.