Timeline Of A Florida Divorce
Divorce is an unfamiliar and unsettling process for most people. It is possible, however, to sustain some consistency in the proceedings by obtaining direct guidance from an experienced Clearwater divorce lawyer, who can walk you through the general timeline of the standard divorce.
Filing a Petition
The first step in any divorce is filing a divorce petition, which will officially initiate dissolution proceedings. These petitions must be filed with the clerk’s office of the proper court and contain an acknowledgement that a marriage is irretrievably broken, as well as details about what the petitioner is requesting.
Serving the Other Spouse
The spouse who files the petition will also need to ensure that a copy of the petition and a summons from the clerk are served on the other spouse. In most cases, this occurs at the party’s home, or place of work, but in either case, must be done in person and within 120 days of filing the petition.
Filing an Answer
The spouse who is served with the summons and the divorce petition must file an answer within 20 days of receipt. This is a simple response, wherein the recipient admits to or denies the specific allegations in the petition. At this time, the spouse can also file a counter petition to address certain claims or request other relief from the court.
In all Florida divorces, courts require the parties involved to file, submit, and exchange certain documents and papers, including a Financial Affidavit and a Certificate of Compliance, as well as a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and child custody affidavit, if appropriate.
After reviewing the mandatory disclosures, divorcing parties can then seek additional information about each other’s income and assets through the discovery process and by submitting interrogatories (written questions), Requests for Production, or Requests for Admissions, or by holding depositions. Generally, both parties will need to respond to these requests within 30 days of receipt.
Most divorces involve at least an attempt at mediation before going to trial. This step typically takes place after all disclosures have been made and the discovery process has ended, so both parties will have an understanding of the exact issues and claims being made, as well as the evidence that could support or hinder their case. Mediation sessions are overseen by a neutral third party, who is tasked with helping divorcing couples reach an out-of-court agreement on issues like property division and alimony.
The last step in a divorce action is trial, which only comes after the parties have been unable to reach an agreement outside of court. Trials are held in the presence of a judge, with both sides being given the opportunity to present their cases and provide evidence in support of their claims. Eventually, the judge will use this evidence to create a final agreement, with which both parties must comply.
Speak to an Experienced Clearwater Divorce Attorney
This is only a general outline of what a divorcing couple can expect when ending their marriage. The exact nature of the proceedings will, however, depend on the specific circumstances of the case, so if you are considering divorce, please don’t hesitate to call Cairns Law at 727-683-1472 and speak with one of our dedicated attorneys today about your own concerns.