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Two gold wedding rings on a divorce document - The Family Law Firm Of Tampa Bay

If you have been served with divorce paperwork, call our family law attorney to schedule a consultation as soon as possible at (813) 519-5919.

Filing for divorce impacts every aspect of your life. Divorce can bring several emotions to the forefront for adults and children. Virtually every part of your life will be touched when transitioning from married to single life. While this transitional time may be difficult, it does not all have to be negative!

With your first consultation, our attorney, who focuses solely on Marital and Family Law, will discuss how divorce will impact each aspect of your life alongside you, discussing the effects divorce will have on you and your family.

Statistically, nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce, but it is important to remember that your legal process is different from anyone else’s you may know. At The Family Law Firm of Tampa Bay, we keep this in mind when dealing with each individual client.

The issues involved in the divorce process may be complex, and while some divorces may seem “simple and straightforward,” diving into the legal process may bring to light issues not originally considered.

If you have children, they will become the focus point of your divorce immediately. The best interests of the children will be our primary consideration during your divorce to determine timesharing, parental responsibility, and child support. We work closely to insure their best interests are protected!

Seven Things You Need To Know Before Filing For Divorce In Florida

If enough is enough and you are quite certain your marriage is either completely over or sinking fast, you may be considering getting a divorce. This article answers seven key essential questions about initiating the divorce process in Florida, which everyone should know before taking that step, including:

  • How to file for divorce in Florida, and under what grounds?
  • The waiting period and divorce timeline once the process has been started.
  • What you can do to protect yourself if you are served with divorce papers in Florida.

How Do I File For A Divorce In Florida?

While the media and television have made the term ‘filing’ for divorce popular, it is somewhat misleading. In Florida, you will actually have to ‘petition’ the court for divorce.

The type of petition you file will depend on the details of your relationship:

  • If you have minor children, you will file a petition for dissolution of marriage with minor children.
  • If you don't have children, then it would just be a petition for dissolution of marriage.
  • If you have property, you would have to indicate as much on whichever petition for dissolution of marriage you use.

You might be under the impression that your divorce is completely uncontested – and if you genuinely are going through an uncontested divorce, you only need to file a simplified petition for dissolution of marriage. (This indicates divorce without assets, children, etc.)

Nine times out of ten, however, those who think they will have an uncontested divorce do not end up getting one. They often mean, instead, that it is uncontested on their end because they think they are going to walk away with everything they want, which rarely happens.

In any case, regardless of which petition you end up filing with the court, there are a lot of supplemental documents that you will need to present – particularly if you have children. Once these supplemental documents are gathered and the petition is drawn up, you or your divorce attorney will take the petitions to the courthouse and pay a court filing fee which will kick the process into motion. (If you're deemed indigent and unable to pay, this fee may be waived.)

What Are Acceptable Grounds For Divorce In Florida?

Fortunately for those seeking a divorce, Florida is a no-fault divorce state. This means that nowadays, you can divorce for any reason. You don't even have to have a reason.

In the past, the court might have demanded evidence of adultery or some sort of abuse – today, you can just wake up one day realizing that you do not love or even like this person anymore and get a divorce. The actual process for dissolving the marriage does not, however, happen entirely overnight.

Once One Party Petitions For Divorce In Florida, What Is The Timeline Until It Is Finalized?

Once you send the petition for divorce in Florida to the court, there are a number of legal steps and procedures that must occur before the marriage is officially dissolved.

First, the clerk of the court has to issue a summons to your spouse. Issuing a summons, for once, happens more or less like they show in the movies. The documents that you filed go through a process server, (either the sheriff's office or a third party), which has to find your spouse and hand them notice of the divorce papers.

Once your spouse has been served, they have 20 days to file an answer and or counter petition. During that time, you both will generally have to do mandatory disclosures. These are financial documents that you have to fill out and exchange with one another so that everyone has an honest and full picture of all of the financial issues at stake.

In some counties, such as Hillsborough County, the court will set an initial case management conference. That is a five-minute hearing where the judge gets everyone together and asks about the situation at hand.

At this point, about 90% of divorce cases will be referred to mediation. Mediation is an opportunity for you and your spouse to meet together with a neutral third party who can assist you in reaching a resolution or an agreement.

There are two different kinds of mediation available in Florida divorce cases: private family mediation and court-provided mediation. Which one you go through will depend on your financial circumstances. If there are complex financial issues at stake, such as how a 401k is being split or a house divided, you will probably need a private family mediator rather than a court-provided mediator.

If you cannot reach an agreement through mediation, then you are facing a temporary relief hearing at minimum and you may have to go straight to setting up a trial date to have a judge make the necessary decisions on your case.

Is There A Waiting Period Before A Divorce Will Be Granted In Florida?

In most cases in Florida, there is a 30-day waiting period before a final judgment can be entered.

Oftentimes, however, when you reach a marital settlement agreement, you can waive the waiting period requirements. As a result, in nine cases out of ten, there will be no waiting period for the final judgment.

What Should I Do If My Spouse Serves Me With Divorce Papers?

Chances are, if you are reading this, it is either because you are considering petitioning for a divorce or because you have just been served divorce papers. That is not a pleasant surprise. Stay calm, do not try to contact your spouse directly, and get in touch with an attorney right away.

Whether you are paying for a consultation or finding an attorney who offers a free consultation (like our office), it is vital to talk to someone about what steps you need to take next.

You cannot hide under the proverbial rock and pretend the divorce is not happening. If you do, you will have a default judgment entered against you and will ultimately have no say at all in what happens in your divorce.

In short? Always contact a qualified and experienced divorce attorney if you are served with divorce papers in Florida.

How Quickly Can You Get Divorced In Florida?

The length of time it will take to have your divorce finalized in Florida depends entirely upon your case and circumstances.

If, for example, you are getting divorced without children and you have a prenuptial agreement that already separates all your assets and property, you can get divorced relatively quickly. An uncontested divorce can be finished in as little as two months from filing to final judgment.

However, if you and your spouse are fighting over every little thing, failing to provide the financial disclosures that we need, or struggling over child custody , things can quickly get both time-consuming and expensive.

Are There Things I Can Legally Do To Protect Myself Before And During The Divorce?

If you have not gotten married yet, it is always recommended to sign a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse. Chances are, however, you don’t already have one. If you are considering filing for divorce, you should consult with an attorney to discuss strategies to protect yourself or your assets.

Remember: Some actions that you think will help protect you only make you look suspicious and could turn a judge or spouse against you. By providing the details of your circumstances and worries to an attorney, we can help you develop genuine protections or guide you through the divorce process safely. For more information on Filing For Divorce In Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step.

More Information:

Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney - Mireya Lacayo, Esq.

Schedule Your Consultation Now  (813) 519-5919

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