28 Jan How Does Uncontested Divorce Work and How Long Does the Process Take in Florida?
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
We receive a lot of calls regarding Uncontested Divorce and our clients usually just want to begin with the basics – what is an uncontested divorce? As the name suggests, the uncontested divorce is a petition for dissolution in which every issue is agreed upon and then submitted to the Florida family court for approval. Under Florida law, there are essentially three types of divorce: Simplified Divorce, Uncontested Divorce and Contested Divorce. We have discussed Simplified Petitions in this post, so I will refrain from going into detail here. Suffice it to say that there are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify for the Simplified Divorce and not all couples will meet those qualifications. If you do not meet the criteria listed in that post, the next best option in terms of cost and time is the Uncontested Divorce.
How Does Uncontested Divorce Work?
The most important component of the Uncontested Divorce, and the component that differentiates the Uncontested from the Contested Process, is the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). The settlement agreement is just a written agreement that sets forth marital, property, and support rights, and, if the parties have minor children, will also address matters concerning their custody, visitation and support. These can sometimes take a little time to negotiate, but if it is possible, it is definitely worth it, as the alternative, as you may have guessed, is to mediate or head to trial on all issues in dispute.
We handle the Uncontested Divorce process by, initially, gathering certain information from you which enable us to follow up with questions, the answers to which we will use in our draft Marital Settlement Agreement. Once all of the paperwork is complete, we will have you sit down with your spouse and have what we like to refer to as a “coffee table conversation” in which you will attempt to go through the draft agreement, as well as checklist of issues (that we will provide based on your circumstances) that you two should discuss. While this part of the process is sometimes uncomfortable, it is one of the most important pieces to the process – particularly if there are children involved. If you are able to agree on our draft in that agreement, we will have you sign it (with a notary present). We will, shortly thereafter, be able to bring the agreement in front of the Family Court for its approval.
Should the “coffee table discussion” not go well, or not happen at all – all is not lost. If the conversation did happen and there was an agreement to some parts of the proposed agreement, we reduce those parts to a writing and then (potentially) litigate the other issues. Should the conversation not happen at all, we will contact opposing counsel and attempt to have the conversation in place of the couple. While neither of those situations are “ideal”, they are definitely not uncommon.