Steps in the Divorce Process in Florida
As much as you want your divorce to be over with and to live a separate life from your soon-to-be ex-spouse, divorce is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. The State of Florida requires certain steps to be taken for a once-married couple to become officially divorced and recognized as legal. Even if you have been through a divorce before, the steps can be confusing and sometimes daunting. So, it’s in your best interest to hire a skilled Florida divorce attorney to represent you in this process.
File the Divorce Petition
The first step in getting a divorce is to file a divorce petition. The spouse filing the petition is called the “petitioner.” The petition must be filed in circuit court in the county where both spouses live or where the petitioner currently lives. A divorce petition must state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
Answering the Petition
After the petition is filed, the next step in a divorce for the non-filing spouse (called the respondent) is to file an answer to the petition. They have 20 days from when the papers are served to respond. The answer should include what the responding spouse agrees with or denies in the divorce petition and can include additional matters they want the court to be aware of.
At this point, either spouse can ask the court for protective orders, restraining orders, or temporary orders concerning child custody, child support, and spousal support.
An experienced Florida divorce attorney works as your legal advocate, ensuring that the client’s interests are communicated during this time and throughout the Florida divorce process.
The divorce discovery process includes several actions and is one of the most important steps in the divorce process. During this legal process, divorce attorneys collect and share additional essential information that will impact the divorce outcome.
Sometimes, one party to the divorce doesn’t disclose all their assets to the opposing party. By working with a well-versed Florida divorce lawyer, you can be sure that all assets are found and accounted for. Only with all of this information fully disclosed can the divorce court make a fair and legal decision regarding alimony and the distribution of property and other assets.
Each spouse must file a financial affidavit within 45 days of the divorce petition being served. They must also provide mandatory disclosures, including the following documents:
- Income tax returns
- Proof of income
- Bank account statements
- Credit card statements
- Retirement account statements
- Other account statements that reflect debt
In most of Florida, divorce mediation is mandatory if a divorce agreement hasn’t yet been reached or there are unresolved problems with the petition for the dissolution of marriage. However, if domestic violence is involved, mediation might not be required.
If you have children, you must also decide on a parenting plan, which is one of the last steps in a divorce. Parenting plans typically include:
- Each parent’s involvement in raising the kids
- Schedules for time-sharing
- How the communication with the kids will be handled
Parenting plans are also an essential step in determining child support.
Going to Trial
Suppose the two spouses can’t reach a final agreement concerning the financial aspects of the divorce and issues regarding their kids. In that case, they will need to go to court and let a judge decide how the matters should be resolved.
Finalizing the Divorce
Once all the matters involved in the divorce have been negotiated and agreed upon by both spouses or settled by the court, the last step in a divorce is for the judge to sign the “order of dissolution,” also called the Final Judgement. Both parties must adhere to this judgment.
Questions about the Divorce Process? Consult with a Florida Divorce Attorney
If you have questions about the divorce process or your rights going through a divorce, contact Brian McMahon, Attorney at Law, today. Call our office at 561-658-1789 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.