The Florida Divorce Process
Obtaining a divorce can be a complicated process, as it requires compliance with a host of complex procedural rules. We’ve included a breakdown of what the divorce process entails, but still strongly encourage those who are thinking about ending their marriage, to reach out to an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer for a more thorough explanation of what they can expect during their own divorce.
Filing a Petition/Answer
While all divorces are different, they do involve the same basic steps, which begin with the filing of a divorce petition in the circuit court where either of the spouses live. In addition to stating that a marriage is irretrievably broken, the petition should also include requests to the court regarding the division of assets, alimony, and if the couple shares children, a proposed plan for the division of parenting time. The non-filing spouse will have 20 days from the date that he or she received the petition, to file an answer, in which he or she will either admit or deny the statements made in the divorce petition. At this time, the respondent can also file a counter-petition with the court to raise additional matters with the judge. In these cases, the petitioner would then have the opportunity to file an answer.
Filing Additional Paperwork
Besides filing a petition and answer, divorcing couples will need to submit a wide range of paperwork to the court, including:
- A financial affidavit listing their assets, income, and expenses;
- A child support guidelines worksheet;
- A marital settlement agreement if the couple has agreed on the terms of their divorce; and
- A Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act affidavit, which must be completed by couples with children, even if they and their spouse have reached an agreement on time sharing.
In addition to this documentation, which must be filed with the court, couples will also need to share information with each other. These are known as mandatory disclosures and include everything from tax returns and proof of income to bank account statements and investment account information. During this process, which is known as discovery, both parties will have to reveal details about their finances, produce documentation, and respond to questions under oath.
Most divorce courts require that divorcing couples go through mediation to see if the parties can reach an agreement on issues like property division, alimony, child support, and custody without having to go to court. Often, couples who can negotiate an out-of-court agreement at this stage, can avoid litigation entirely, saving the parties both time and money.
Couples who are unable to reach an agreement on divorce-related matters will be required to litigate those issues in court, where a court will be tasked with hearing evidence from both parties. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the judge will make a decision about the matters not decided upon by the couples in any previously submitted settlement agreement, including issues related to alimony awards, property division, and child custody.
Call an Experienced Divorce Attorney
To learn more about the divorce process in Florida, please call experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today.