If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on all of the major issues related to your divorce (such as the division of marital property and debts, child timesharing/custody, child support, and alimony), then you are good candidates for an uncontested divorce. This option is generally easier and less stressful and results in fewer court appearances and lower legal bills.
Florida Contested Divorce
However, in cases where one or both of you dispute one or more issues in a Florida divorce, then you find yourself in a contested divorce. In this situation, you will need to go through numerous steps during the divorce process. They may include, but are not limited to:
1. Consulting with and hiring an attorney. This is one of the most important steps in any divorce. Make sure that the divorce attorney whom you retain makes you feel comfortable and is one which you believe will best represent you.
2. Preparing, filing and serving the Florida divorce petition and supporting documents. This is the legal paperwork that asks for the divorce and states the grounds for the breakdown of the marriage. The divorce petition is filed with the court and then your attorney will arrange for a private process server or Sheriff to serve the petition and supporting documents on your spouse.
3. Your spouse responds to petition. In Florida, your spouse has 20 days after being served to file an answer and/or Counter-Petition with the Court. If they do not, you may obtain a default judgment of divorce.
4. Discovery. Divorce discovery is the information gathering process to obtain information (related to marital assets, income, and any other issues relevant to their case) from your spouse and third-party witnesses through written interrogations, document requests and depositions. (Note: At this point, spouses are able to request temporary orders for child support, alimony, or timesharing and other parenting issues from the courts.)
5. Settlement. Proposals and negotiations go on between your attorney and your spouse’s attorney in hopes of finding a mutually agreeable settlement. The judge may order mediation where a neutral third-party helps you deal with unresolved issues.
6. Trial. If the parties are unable to resolve the issues and attempted settlement fails, you will be going to divorce court. During the trial portion, both-sides will present witnesses, those witnesses are then cross-examined by the opposing side and then each side will present closing arguments. Thereafter, a judge comes to a decision regarding the issues.
7. Post-trial motions and hearings. After the judge enters an Order, both parties have the right to file a post-trial motion for relief from the final judgment (Motion for Re-Hearing).
8. Appeals. If post-trial motions (Motion for Re-Hearing) are denied, a notice of appeal can be filed. If the case is reversed, it is sent back to the trial court. If the case is affirmed, the process is over.
Should I Hire an Attorney for my Florida Divorce?
Florida Contested divorces are not preferable, but often times they are unavoidable. Due to the complexity of the process, it is critical to hire an experienced divorce attorney who will help you from start to finish.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss child support, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312.