Divorce can be one of the most emotional and stressful experiences of a person’s life. As such, many divorcing spouses wish to complete the process and get back to their lives as quickly as possible. Since Florida family courts and related divorce statutes strictly govern the divorce process, every divorce must go through a series of well-defined, predictable steps. Generally speaking, the length the length of time required to complete these steps will largely depend on whether a divorce is contested or uncontested, with most divorces taking anywhere from 3 to 17 months from start to finish.
Fortunately, there are some generalizations regarding the Florida divorce process which can help spouses know what to expect, allowing them to feel a certain level of comfort during an otherwise uncomfortable time. While your divorce may be slightly different based on the specific issues you and your spouse face, the following roadmap can help you get a general idea of how your divorce will proceed.
- Filing for Divorce: Once the necessary information has been gathered, you or your spouse will need to prepare and file an official petition for divorce, which can take up to a week. This document will state why the spouse wants a divorce and a basic guideline of how they want to settle the issues of the divorce, such as custody and other family issues. Once filed, a case number will be issued and the filing spouse will need to serve the divorce papers to the non-filing spouse. The non-filing spouse will have 20 days to respond to this petition, either by agreeing to its terms or contesting them. In total, this stage will usually take around 1 month.
- Financial Disclosures & Discovery: After you or your spouse have responded to the divorce petition, up to 1 to 9 months may be needed to prepare financial disclosures and exchange information, known as discovery. This will involve revealing the assets, liabilities, income, and expenses of both parties through financial affidavits, as well as utilizing record subpoenas, depositions, and other requests for information necessary for each party to build their case. The length of this stage will mainly depend on how quickly you and your spouse provide the necessary information. You will have 45 days to provide the basic financial documents, though complex or high net worth divorces usually involve the exchange of further information. Some present the requested information voluntarily, while others may attempt to hide assets, potentially leading to months of litigation.
- Negotiations & Mediation: Once both your and your spouse’s counsel have received all necessary information and prepared your cases, negotiations and mediation may begin. This stage is required in all Florida divorces and can be crucial to help you and your spouse come together towards a mutually acceptable solution, allowing you to end the process quickly. Likewise, collaborative divorces can cost far less in attorney’s fees and court costs than a contested legal battle. Negotiations can take anywhere from 1 to 5 months, with mediation taking only one or two days and all issues can be settled. Many divorces end up coming to an end at this stage. Successfully mediated agreements are usually filed with the court immediately, after which both spouses must arrange to attend a final court hearing.
- Pre-Trial Preparations: If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement, your divorce will proceed towards trial. This will involve pretrial motions, depositions, and subpoenas, all of which can happen at any time. This process typically takes between 1 to 3 months.
- Final Trial: Final trials usually take between 1 to 5 days, though the more issues involved, the longer a trial will be. Once both sides have had a chance to present their case a judge will issue a final decision.
Simplify Your Divorce with Pazos Law Group
When dealing with matters that will impact your family’s future, it is important to have an advocate by your side who can ensure your best interests are protected. At Pazos Law Group, our award-winning Broward County divorce lawyers are experienced in all types of family cases ranging from high net worth divorce to uncontested separations and everything in between. To find out more about how our team of advocates can assist you, call (954) 719-5557 or get in touch with our office online today.
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