Do I Need to Go to Court to Obtain a Divorce?
Before Florida adopted a no-fault approach to divorce, couples who decided to end their marriages were always required to go to court. This is, however, no longer required and many couples are able to avoid litigating their case entirely. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, in which case, the parties involved should be represented by experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyers who can ensure that the divorce process goes as smoothly as possible.
The most important factor in determining whether a court will need to be involved in a divorce case is whether that divorce is uncontested. Uncontested divorces can either be simplified or standard. In order to qualify for the former, a couple must:
- Agree on how marital property and debts will be divided;
- Agree to forego alimony;
- Not share any children; and
- Agree on all of the terms of their divorce.
In addition to these requirements, couples must also be willing to give up their right to a trial and appeal. When these elements are fulfilled, couples need only go to the clerk’s office to sign the petition and attend a single final hearing. While the simplified divorce process doesn’t bypass a court appearance entirely, it is much simpler than a contested divorce.
Standard Uncontested Divorce
Even couples who don’t technically qualify for a simplified dissolution of their marriage could still file for an uncontested divorce. In these cases, the couple in question will still need to reach an agreement on how marital assets and debts will be divided, as well as whether one party will be required to pay alimony, and if the couple shares children, how parenting time and child support will be divided. Like a simplified divorce, a standard uncontested divorce allows couples to avoid litigating their divorce in court, requiring only minimal court appearances, but is also available to couples with children, or who have reached an alimony agreement.
When a couple cannot agree on some (or any) of the terms of their divorce, they will need to go to court to actually end their marriage. Rather than seeking a formal approval at a final hearing, which is typical in simplified and standard uncontested divorces, the case will actually go to trial and a judge will be tasked with making a decision on the contested issues. In these cases, the parties will be required to attend a number of hearings, where both sides will also need to provide evidence and argue their case in front of a judge. While contested divorces do tend to be both more time-consuming and more expensive, they don’t need to be unbearable. In fact, those who are represented by skilled lawyers can resolve their cases relatively smoothly even when the parties disagree on some issues.
Have You Decided to File for Divorce?
When you’re facing divorce and related court appearances, you should be represented by an experienced Florida divorce lawyer. Please call dedicated attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today to get started.