Divorce can be a complicated process, and it is certainly a stressful experience. However, many people have similar questions and concerns when it comes to the Florida divorce process. Some common questions and answers are listed below. However, if you are considering divorce, it is important that you speak to a family law attorney with experience in the divorce process. The following questions and answers are general, and your specific circumstances may impact how much they apply to you.
How Do I Begin the Divorce Process?
In Florida, divorces are granted on the grounds that a marriage is irretrievably broken. This means that a marriage has disintegrated to a point at which it cannot be saved. One person in the marriage must have been a Florida resident for at least six months prior to filing a petition with the court for divorce. In Florida, requesting a divorce does not require you to prove anything other than resident status. When a person finds his or her marriage to be irretrievably broken, he or she may file the appropriate paperwork with the court asking for a divorce. The initial paperwork is called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This form requires you to outline your general claims, including any potential claim for child or spousal support. Once filed, you will be required to serve your spouse with the paperwork.
Does Divorce Require Me to Have a Lawyer?
There is no requirement that a person seeking a divorce be represented by an attorney. However, often times the stakes are high in a divorce. The divorce process and court system can also be overwhelming and confusing. There are many aspects that people may overlook or misunderstand without the help of a lawyer, like potential tax consequences. If you choose to pursue divorce without an attorney, you should still consult with one so that you can ensure that your rights and interests are being fully represented in the divorce process. Unless the divorce is simple, it can be difficult to represent yourself in the process without proper legal training and experience.
Are the Requirements Different if I Have Children?
The basic requirements are still the same as those outlined above. However, when children are involved in the divorce process, Florida law requires both parties to complete a seminar on children and divorce. These seminars will help you anticipate the impact divorce will have on your children, as well as answer many questions related to your children during the divorce process. In Florida, custody is referred to as time-sharing. You will have to have a detailed time-sharing plan that you and your spouse agree on before your divorce can be finalized.
What is the Difference Between Uncontested and Contested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree to a divorce settlement. A contested divorce is when both parties to the divorce wish to achieve different goals and do not agree on various aspects of the divorce, such as custody or child support. The divorce process is far easier, quicker, and less expensive when both parties agree to the terms of a divorce settlement. However, it is often the case that each party desires a different outcome from the divorce. In those cases, the process will take longer and can be more complex.
Is Mediation Right for Me?
If one spouse contests the proposed terms of a divorce, mediation can be a helpful tool to resolve the case before going to trial. It can also be much more cost-effective than a trial because there is much less legal preparation required of the lawyers if parties are represented by attorneys. In mediation, no legal agreement is reached and the terms decided during mediation are not legally binding until parties put them in a formal settlement agreement. However, mediators can be beneficial because they can often draw out a person’s reasons for contesting certain terms of a divorce. In doing so, the party contesting certain terms has an opportunity to be heard, which may be one of the reasons they are contesting a specific term to begin with. This process can be helpful in allowing each party to hear and understand the other’s points, and a mediator can help parties resolve many issues. Selecting a mediator with knowledge of the divorce process is important, and mediation is far more productive after the discovery process has given everyone a clear picture of each person’s financial situation as well as each person’s wishes as to the outcome of the divorce.
Can I Receive Temporary Spousal and/or Child Support During the Divorce Process?
If you are eligible for temporary spousal support or child support during the divorce process, then there is a way to request a hearing after the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed. At this hearing, a judge will determine what, if any, temporary spousal or child support is appropriate based on each party’s financial condition at the time of the request. Florida courts also recognize that circumstances change during and after a divorce, so it is possible to modify orders of spousal or child support once they have been entered. An attorney can help you understand what may qualify as a change of circumstances that could enable a successful request to modify a standing order of support.
How Long Does the Divorce Process Take in Florida?
There is no set timeline for how long the divorce process takes. One factor that will determine the length of time a divorce may take is whether or not the divorce is contested. An uncontested divorce can take significantly less time. If a court has to determine one or more issues, like division of assets or time-sharing, then the process could take much longer. You should expect the divorce process to take around six months. However, there are other factors that may affect how long a divorce takes. In locations where courts have more limited resources or have many cases to hear, the process could take one year or more.
Where Can I Find out More Information About My Specific Circumstances?
Divorce is a complicated process. A family law attorney with experience in the divorce process can be an asset to you during a very difficult time. Scott J. Stadler has worked with numerous clients throughout the divorce process, and can use that experience to work with you, too. If you have general questions about the divorce process, or specific questions about how your individual circumstances will affect the divorce process, contact Scott J. Stadler for a consultation.