How Long Do You Have to Be Married to Get Divorced?
Marriage is a big commitment, and sometimes, a couple realizes relatively quickly that the decision to get married was not right. Divorce is usually viewed as a messy endeavor that takes a lot of time, money and effort to complete. For couples that realize soon after marriage that the relationship will not work, common questions that are asked is whether there is a minimum amount of time before divorce may be filed, how long the case will take to finish, and if annulment might be the better option. Like any legal case, there are procedures that must be followed before a court will issue a final judgment to dissolve the marriage. This can be frustrating for newlywed spouses ready to move forward; however, having an understanding of the basic timeline they should expect from beginning to end, and why annulment is rarely the answer in these cases, should help to make the process a little easier.
Florida does not impose a minimum amount of time the marriage must last before divorce is available, but there is a six-month residency requirement that one spouse must satisfy, which may delay filing the petition for new residents. Additionally, judges may scrutinize divorce petitions from newlywed spouses a little more closely and could ask them to attempt reconciliation before allowing the case to advance, such as seeking counseling or taking a break before making a final decision. However, it is very rare that a judge will do this. So, all the petitioner needs to do is to allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken in the petition. It is not necessary that the petitioner prove that it is irretrievably broken, even if the respondent spouse objects that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
Timeline for Divorce
Assuming the residency issue is settled, the next hurdle that will dictate how long the case takes to resolve is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Marriages of short duration are most often uncontested, meaning the parties agree on all relevant issues, such as property division, support, and child custody. Though, most do not share children, which significantly simplifies the case. In uncontested divorces, the spouses must cooperate to sign, submit, and correct paperwork as needed, and they can expect the entire process to take three to four months, which encompasses preparing the petition, filing it, and waiting for the court’s decree dissolving the marriage. For contested cases, the timeline is much more variable, and will depend upon how long discovery takes, which can range from three to nine months, as well as how mediation goes and whether it results in a settlement. All told, the time to finalize a contested divorce can be one year or more, though it is rare for a divorce to last more than 12 to 13 months.
Is Annulment the Answer?
Knowing that a divorce can last for a number of months, it is understandable if spouses wonder if annulment might be a better option. First to know about this process is the fact that the burden of proof demanded to obtain this result is much higher, meaning the likelihood of success is far from guaranteed in most cases. Further, annulments take longer to complete and are a good deal more expensive to litigate. Most importantly, though, the grounds for an annulment are very specific and most couples do not have the facts necessary to support this type of case. Annulments result in each spouse being treated as if the marriage did not occur, and if this an important outcome for someone, talking to an experienced divorce attorney is essential.
Speak to a Divorce Attorney
If you have concerns about your marriage and are considering divorce, learn what your options are before you take any definitive steps. There is a strategy that should be applied in divorce, and an experienced divorce attorney can help set your case up for the best possible outcome. The Tampa divorce attorneys at the All Family Law Group, P.A. tailor their approach to the unique needs of each case, and can help you get the closure you need. Contact the Tampa divorce attorneys and family lawyers at All Family Law Group, P.A. in Tampa Bay for a free consultation. They can be reached at 813-672-1900.