What to Expect in a Contested Florida Divorce
Getting a divorce can be demoralizing. You made a commitment to your partner for life, but irreconcilable divorces have come between you, your partner, and the commitment you both made. It’s important to recognize that not all divorce cases are created equal.
In some cases, the divorce will be uncontested as both spouses agree on what needs to be done and what parameters need to be in place to end the marriage and move on. Everything becomes more challenging when there is no mutual agreement and the divorce is contested. This process can become long and drawn out as both sides fight for every inch, so it’s important to be prepared for what’s to come.
Serving the Divorce Petition
The process of initiating the divorce is the same as any other. One party will serve the other with petition to dissolve the marriage (often done through a third party). This provides the respondent with 20 days to contest the petition in order to avoid a default judgment in the divorce.
This is where the divorce becomes contested as the respondent (normally in conjunction with their attorney) contests the initial petition. After the divorce is contested, the discovery phase will begin.
The Discovery Phase
During discovery, the court will want to learn more about your marriage and relevant information about each individual. This includes gathering a list of marital assets, finances, business interests, and more.
The discovery phase sets the stage for the entire divorce case. Couples who have extensive and valuable marital assets often end up in long, drawn-out contested divorces.
Working Out the Differences
It’s likely you both don’t agree on how assets should be split or how child support/custody and alimony needs to be addressed. You might imagine going through a lengthy battle in the courtroom over these issues, but Florida state law actually requires divorcing couples to attend mediation as an initial attempt to resolve these issues.
Our team has extensive experience with mediation and can help you resolve even the most complicated problems in your divorce without going through an ugly court battle. Mediation is essentially a meeting with a neutral third party who will review the details of your case and make non-legally binding suggestions. You can decline these suggestions or accept them and resolve your divorce.
Determining Temporary or Long-Term Financial Support
Contested divorces can take time. This means one party may need financial assistance to pay bills, take care of the kids, and maintain their current lifestyle and living arrangements until the divorce is final. Your attorney should file a motion to secure this support for you, especially if mediation fails and the stalemate continues.
Once you are able to resolve your issues and find that middle ground, long-term support (either for yourself or your children) would need to be discussed. Not all cases end with child support or alimony, but the court will review the relevant information of both parties in making a determination.
Dissolution of Your Marriage
Once all issues are addressed and parties understand the terms, your marriage will be legally dissolved by the court. This means you are free from your spouse and the troubles that came with them with only child support and/or alimony to concern yourself with.