Overview Of The Divorce Time Frame In Florida
Every divorce, just like every family, is unique. While the details of your individual case will be different from those in any other case, there are certain deadlines and time frames that must be met. Further, certain steps must be taken in order to reach the end result of a final decree.
To better prepare you for your own experience, here is a brief outline of the divorce process:
- Filing of petition — The first step in getting a divorce in Florida is to file your petition for dissolution of marriage with the family law court. Either you or your spouse may file the petition. There is no advantage or disadvantage to filing first. In the petition, the filing party will set out his or her terms for the divorce, including for child custody and visitation, alimony, and equitable distribution.
- Response to petition — After the petition has been filed and served, the other spouse has a period of 20 days in which to prepare and file a response. The response may either accept the terms which were proposed in the original petition, or it may be a challenge to the petition, with its own counter-claims. If the respondent does not file a response before the deadline, the petitioning spouse may request a default be entered, making it possible to win by a lack of involvement by the other party.
- Temporary hearings — It is possible to schedule a temporary hearing immediately after this 20-day period, at which either spouse may file a motion for temporary relief. The goal of pursuing such a motion is to obtain temporary orders or injunctions concerning the dissipation of finances, possession of the marital home, alimony payments and child custody and child support.
- Exchange of financial information — The next stage of divorce is a period of mandatory disclosure of financial information. You and your spouse will both be required to exchange bank records, tax returns, 401(k)s and other financial statements. As a result, the attorneys representing both sides will have an opportunity to get a full and accurate picture of each spouse’s financial situation in order to pursue action for equitable distribution and payment of child support and alimony.
- Alternative dispute resolution — Once everything has been laid out in the open, you and your spouse will most likely be required to attend mediation in an attempt to avoid a contested divorce in the courtroom. In mediation, you and your spouse will meet with a neutral third party whose role is to facilitate discussion, rather than to advocate for either party and to assist you and your spouse in the pursuit of an amicable resolution.
- Litigation — In the event that you are unable to resolve the issues in your divorce through mediation or other out-of-court negotiation strategies, it will be necessary to go to court for a trial. At the trial, both parties will have the opportunity to introduce evidence and witnesses and to seek to convince the judge to rule in their favor.
How You Can Speed Up The Process
There is no way to predict with accuracy exactly how long your divorce will take, given that some divorces are more complex than others. One of the most important factors that will influence the duration of your divorce is your engagement with the process and the decisions you make along the way.
The absolute minimum period of time that a divorce may take is 20 days, but this only occurs when the parties bring a fully prepared settlement agreement along with the petition for dissolution, as in an uncontested divorce, or when one party wins summary judgment against the other. In many cases, the divorce will take much longer. You can greatly improve your chances of a swift divorce with a minimum of stress by hiring an experienced divorce lawyer from Anne E. Raduns, P.A.
To schedule a confidential consultation regarding your divorce concerns, call us at 352-877-3786 or complete our contact form. We represent clients in Ocala, The Villages and throughout Central Florida.