Understanding the Many Timelines of Divorce

The most frustrating aspect of divorce for many couples is the amount of time it takes to resolve everything. Even if you are engaging in an uncontested divorce, the process will take a minimum of 30 days. Florida law requires several steps to be satisfied for your divorce to be considered valid, starting with the initial divorce petition (also called complaint). 

Phase 1 (3 Weeks)

The term “phase 1” is not a legally recognized term, but we will refer to the steps of petition filing and response as the first phase. After you have decided to divorce your spouse, you must compose a document that communicates your intent to divorce and your reason for initiating the split. After your spouse has been served the petition, he or she will have 20 days to answer. If there is no response to the petition, the judge will likely grant you desired terms by default. 

Phase 2 (3-6 Months)

If you and your spouse agree to everything in the agreement, then the two of you will enter into an uncontested divorce. This type of divorce will be finalized in about three months, depending on the availability of the court (sometimes a court will be dealing with a backlog of cases). However, if your spouse contests even one item in your proposed terms, then you will head to a mediator. 

Florida requires couples undergoing divorce to meet with a mediator before resorting to divorce court. Between 70 and 90 percent of couples finalize their divorce through the mediation process. If you and your spouse agree to terms during this stage, you should expect things to reach a conclusion around six months after the original petition was filed. You will need to show up at a final hearing, but that usually will happen fairly quickly after a successful mediation. 

Phase 3 (9 Months – 2 Years)

Despite your efforts to effect a quick and seamless divorce proceeding, sometimes court is unavoidable due to complex situations involving children, the level of animosity between spouses, and other reasons. During a contested divorce, both sides will have opportunities to present evidence and call witnesses. Depositions and discovery will also drag out the process. In all, contested divorces will usually take about a year, but can take longer. 

Conclusion

If you are like most individuals seeking a divorce, you probably want the process done as quickly as possible so you can adjust to your new situation and resume your old, familiar routines. Unfortunately, state law mandates a certain period of time pass between required steps of divorce. To ensure your divorce is settled efficiently, contact us now. 

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