When people get married, even if they think a divorce is possible, they most likely don’t think it will happen to them. Then, that unlikely possibility comes true somewhere down the line and confusion sets in.
If this sounds like you, you might be asking yourself tons of questions: What went wrong? Could I have done something to prevent this? Why didn’t I see it coming? And, more importantly, what happens now?
Not only do you have to deal with the emotions a divorce brings, you also have to deal with the practicality of it. And you probably have tons of questions about that as well. So let’s go over some of the most frequently asked questions about divorce in Florida and give you the much-needed answers you’re looking for.
What is the first thing I need to do to get a divorce in Florida?
As long as you meet the residency requirement, you or your spouse will have to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The residency requirement for a divorce is that one of the spouses has to live in Florida for at least 6 months. Since Florida is a no-fault state, you don’t have to show that your spouse did anything wrong to warrant the divorce. All you have to do is say that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
How long does a divorce in Florida take?
A divorce can be on the short or long end of the spectrum depending on the circumstances whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce means that both spouses agree on everything – alimony, time-sharing with children, child support, and division of property and debts. These types of divorces may potentially take only 4 or 5 weeks.
If, however, the divorce is contested, the court will have to step in and make decisions for the couple, which could possibly take 4 to 6 months to be heard. In counties where the courts are extremely busy, a divorce can take up to a year or more. If couples want the divorce process to end faster, they will need to come to some kind of compromise during mediation in order to avoid a long, drawn out trial.
Do I have to go to court in order to get a divorce?
That depends. If both parties agree to the terms of the divorce, you might not ever have to go to court. All of the necessary documents will be submitted to the court electronically and you won’t have to be present in court. As mentioned above, though, if both parties can’t agree, you may have to go to court to resolve your issues if you can’t come to a solution on your own.
Do I need to hire a divorce lawyer?
While you can get a divorce on your own without a lawyer, hiring an experienced divorce lawyer can make the entire process easier. Qualified attorneys not only understand the divorce process but they can also offer insight and wisdom depending on your unique situation. On top of that, skilled lawyers can make sure there aren’t any mistakes when filing out forms, which can save you both time and money.
What do I have to do to prepare for a divorce?
Once your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is served, you have 45 days to turn over a completed and signed financial affidavit to your spouse. This will help paint a clear picture of both spouses’ finances to make sure any alimony, child support, and property division settlement is fair. You will want to include documents in your financial affidavit such as income, assets, debts, bank statements, tax returns, credit card statements, personal financial statements, and anything related to your finances that your spouse and the court needs to know.
If you and your spouse have kids, you will also need to submit a Child Support Guidelines worksheet to determine the proper amount of child support each parent has to pay.
Do I need to attend mediation?
While mediation isn’t required, it may be beneficial and more affordable to use a mediator than to prepare for a full trial because many cases are resolved at mediation. Mediators can’t force either spouse to agree to a settlement, but mediators have certain skills to show people what a reasonable settlement looks like. You might want to hold off on mediation, though, until the discovery process has given you a complete picture of your finances as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Hopefully this will help answer your questions, but if you have more questions or just simply want to talk to someone about your situation, reach out to an experienced Florida divorce attorney today.