The Timeline of a Florida Divorce
Divorce is an unsettling and uncertain time. You are likely wondering what your life will look like afterwards, and what the future holds for you. One of the biggest uncertainties may be that you are unsure of what the process entails, or what you will have to go through. To help bring some certainty to the situation, below is a timeline of what you can expect when going through the divorce process.
Petition for Divorce
All divorces in Florida are initiated after one spouse files the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. This document is filed with the Clerk of the Court and must state that there has been a breakdown of the marital relationship. The document must also contain a statement of relief, which essentially asks the court to grant the divorce. It also lays out all issues that the party filing the Petition is asking the Court to address and resolve in the divorce.
Serving the Petition
Once the petition has been filed, the clerk will tell you your case number and provide you with a summons. You must serve your spouse with the summons and a copy of the petition. Your spouse must be served within 120 days of when you file the petition. In most cases, spouses are served within one week of the petition being filed with the court.
Filing an Answer
If your spouse filed the petition and you have been served with divorce papers, you have 20 days to answer the Petition. Your answer simply admits or denies the allegations in the petition. You can also file your own counter petition to address issues you think are important, and ask the court to provide relief for them. If you file a counter petition, your spouse then has 20 days to answer your counter-petition.
All Florida divorces require disclosure of certain documents, such as a Financial Affidavit or tax returns. All parties involved in the divorce must file these within 45 days of being served.
Discovery allows both sides to ask the other for certain information. This is done through depositions, subpoenas, and other legal methods. There are certain timelines that must be met during the discovery process, so it is important to speak to a divorce lawyer that can help with this process.
In Florida, when you file a divorce action, you are required to attend mediation before you can even request a trial. Mediation allows the couple to sit with a mediator, a third-party neutral, and their attorneys, and come to an agreement on their own. Mediation provides for faster and less costly divorces.
When the two sides cannot reach an agreement in mediation, the case will go to trial. During trial, a judge will hear arguments from both sides and make the final decision on all issues that have not previously been resolved by the parties. Divorce trials can take anywhere from a few days to several months.
Our Florida Family Lawyers Will Help You Through the Divorce Process
If you are considering divorce, our Orlando family lawyers at O’Mara Law Group can help. Our experienced attorneys will help you throughout the entire process, tell you what is the next step, prepare you for it, and give you the best chance of success with your case. Call us today at (407) 634-6604 or contact us online so we can start reviewing your case.