When individuals go through a divorce, they want to move past the process as soon as possible. However, Florida has strict laws in place concerning the divorce process, which include timelines that are specific for each divorce.
If both spouses agree on all the details of the divorce, it is considered uncontested. Although uncontested divorces would be ideal for all couples, there are many issues that are difficult for both individuals to resolve without assistance from the court. These issues may include:
- Parental Agreements
- Child Support
- Tax exemptions
- Division of property and other assets
Uncontested divorce cases are typically quick because spouses are cooperative. If any procedural issues arise, such as incorrect paperwork, then spouses typically work quickly to resolve any problems that delayed the process. Although uncontested divorces usually take the shortest amount of time to settle and are relatively easy, an attorney should always handle uncontested cases to ensure all matters are taken care of quickly and effectively.
It usually takes about three weeks to prepare for an uncontested divorce and three months for the final hearing, so the total time it typically takes to get an uncontested divorce in Florida is about four months.
Initially Contested Divorce
The most common type of divorce case in Florida is an initially contested divorce. When a spouse files for a contested divorce, the other spouse will be served divorce papers, which will be delivered by a private process server. It does not matter if spouses contest one issue or many issues, only one disagreement means the case is an initially contested divorce. However, most spouses are able to reach an agreement with the help of a mediator who helps couples resolves any problems. As a result, the initially contested case is now uncontested. In Florida, it typically takes about four weeks to prepare for this type of case.
Contested divorces will require more preparation and time than uncontested divorces. Spouses must prepare to argue their side of the case. Those going through a contested divorce will need to be diligent about gathering and organizing any documents that are needed for the case.
Contested divorces are filed instantly, and it can take one to three weeks for a personal service of petition and summons, which is dependent on how easy it is for the process sever to find the other spouse. Many individuals hire private process servers because they are faster than local law enforcement officials.
When the other spouse gets served, he or she has 20 days to file a response. Although this is a reasonable amount of time considering the circumstances, there are individuals who ask for additional response time in hopes of delaying the case.
Final Discovery: 90 Days
Those who go through a contested divorce are required to submit specific financial documents within a certain timeframe. These documents usually include paycheck stubs, income tax returns, employee savings account statements, retirement savings account statements, and checking account statements. Most financial disclosure documents must be submitted within three months.
Divorce Course for Parents
Florida law states that couples who have children, and file for a divorce, must participate in a four hour parenting course. It is required that both parents complete the course, and many people take the course just before or after the divorce process begins.
Mediation usually takes place four to five months after filing. According to Florida law, all couples going through a divorce must adhere to mediation. For most couples, all issues will be settled during meditation. In fact, 70% to 90% couples settle divorce issues during mediation. The divorce process will be shortened for couples who settle issues of their case during mediation. Florida law allows couples to go to a private mediator or use a courthouse mediation program. When an agreement is made during mediation, it will usually be filed immediately, and then the couple must schedule a final hearing.
In most divorce cases, final hearings will occur four to six months after initial filing. There are many factors that can delay a final hearing, which includes failure to follow procedures or inaccurate document. The final hearing is the last step in a contested divorce.