What are the Steps in a Florida Divorce?
When going through a divorce, one of the most difficult aspects is that people typically do not know what to expect. Simply eliminating this fear of the unknown is enough to make people feel better about the process, particularly when they are the ones that want to initiate divorce proceedings in the first place. If you are going through a divorce, or considering it, it is best to work with a divorce lawyer that can fully explain what will happen during each step. In the meantime, below is a guideline of the steps your divorce may take, and what you can expect during each of them.
Filing the Petition
In Florida, divorce is known as the “dissolution of marriage” and the process begins with one spouse filing the petition for dissolution of marriage with the courts. The spouse that files this petition is known as “the petitioner” throughout the rest of the case. Within the petition, the person filing for divorce must state that the marital relationship has broken down and that there is no hope of reconciling.
Filing the Answer
After the petition is filed with the court, the other spouse has 20 days to file their answer. This time limit begins from the day they are served the petition. In their answer, the non-filing spouse must tell the court if they agree to the petition, which parts of it are true, if they deny anything stated in the petition, and if there are any parts of the original petition that they are unaware of. Within their answer, the non-filing spouse can also raise additional issues with the court. The petitioner can then respond to this reply.
Filing Additional Paperwork
There is a great deal of paperwork associated with divorce. In every divorce in Florida, a financial affidavit must be filed within 45 days of the original affidavit being served. Additionally, a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit must also be filed if the divorce will involve minor children.
During the discovery phase, both sides must present the other side with the financial documents pertinent to the divorce. This includes tax returns, proof of income, statements regarding debt, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and more.
Most divorces in Florida that involve minor children must go through mediation. The only exception is when one spouse is the victim of domestic violence. During mediation, both sides will meet with a mediator to try and come to an agreement without going through litigation.
In any divorce that involves minor children, the court must agree to a parenting plan that the two spouses have prepared. When the spouses cannot come to an agreement, the court will draft and finalize a parenting plan that the two spouses must comply with.
Not all divorces will reach this point. However, if the couple cannot agree to even one term of their divorce, they will have to move to litigation and go through a trial. During the trial, both sides will make their arguments and ask the court for certain things, such as assets. At the end of the trial, the judge will make a decision and each of these decisions is legally binding.
Need Help with Your Divorce? Call Our Florida Divorce Lawyer
It is natural to be worried about what the divorce process will entail. At All Family Law Group, our Tampa divorce lawyers will not only fully explain it all to you, but also help you through every step of the way. If you are considering divorce, or the process has already started, call us today at (813) 672-1900 for your free consultation so we can review your case and help you through the proceedings.