30 Jun How Long Does a Divorce Take?
How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Florida?
One of the first questions a person considering divorce has when they first contact us is “how long does a divorce take?”. The fact is is that there really isn’t a set time in which any divorce must take place (outside of a Florida court order). It depends on the type of divorce and how cooperative you and your spouse are during the process. If both parties agree and are willing to sign a marital settlement agreement, a divorce can take as few as 30 days. In a Divorce in which many issues are contested and there isn’t an agreement in place, the amount of time that the process can take depends on a few variables.
Documents and Time Frames in a Contested Divorce
For instance, when your attorney files a dissolution of marriage petition, a process server or sheriff must serve the documents on your spouse. While it usually takes just a few days, no one can tell you exactly how long this will take, as it really depends upon the process server and whether he or she can find your spouse. If your spouse is intentionally hiding, it could take weeks to even find him or her — or weeks to publish the divorce in the legal section of a local paper (service by publication).
Once your spouse has been served, he or she must file an answer or risk being defaulted by the court. Your spouse then has 20 days to file an answer (as of the date of service). At any time after the petition has been filed or even at the time of filing the petition, discovery documents must be filed. Both spouses must complete a Florida family law financial affidavit and must make other mandatory financial disclosures. Typically, once a request for discovery has been received by either party, that party has 30 days to respond.
The Florida Family Court’s Docket
Many other factors can prolong the divorce process. The length of time it takes in order to resolve an issue, if the court must intervene, is also affected by the availability of the assigned Florida family court judge. In some counties, the courts are so full that it could take several months before being able to obtain a hearing date.
How to Avoid a Lengthy Divorce Process
As we’ve discussed in prior posts, the parties should attempt to come to an agreement. Issues that the couple should address as soon as possible may include:
* Proper separation of each partner’s personal assets;
* Potential hiding of marital assets;
* Division of liabilities;
* Child custody and visitation issues, including withholding visitation;
* Child support issues;
* Spousal support issues; and
* Division of the marital residence.
Obviously, the more issues that a divorcing couple can agree upon, the better. If you absolutely cannot come to an agreement with your spouse on any issue, that specific issue may need to be litigated.
Again, because there are many factors that affect a divorce, no one can truly give you an accurate answer to the question “How Long Does a Divorce Take?”. The best way to avoid a lengthy divorce is by choosing a firm who will focus on the issues that may arise in the divorce that mean the most to you and then trying to find a common ground in order to narrow the focus of litigation to a few (if any) issues.