17 Dec What Happens When My Divorce is Contested?
Going through a contested divorce in Florida is a complicated, frustrating experience. Divorce is never fun or easy, but there are different types of divorce, and some are certainly easier in terms of financial cost and time spent than others. One of the most unfortunate circumstances is when an amicable, uncontested divorce suddenly becomes bitter and contested. A contested divorce is a confusing process that usually has several steps to it and can be a battle every step of the way. Knowing what to expect when your divorce becomes contested can save you a lot of headaches and help you get an end to your divorce as quickly as possible.
Initiating the Divorce Process
The first several steps that you will need to go through are fairly standard, and will likely need to be done even if your divorce is uncontested. Assuming that you are the spouse filing for divorce, you should have met with an attorney to have your divorce petition gone over and then served to your soon-to-be ex-spouse. They will then have 20 days to respond to the petition for dissolution. If they do not respond within the time limit of the divorce, your attorney may move for default. Alternatively, if you are on the receiving end of the divorce petition, make sure to visit your attorney and respond to the petition as soon as you can.
The Discovery Phase
After your ex-spouse has responded to the petition, the next step is called the “discovery phase.” Discovery is generally when both parties look over the assets of the marriage in detail. They will also be looking over details like income levels of both spouses and possible child custody and support outcomes. Usually, discovery is accomplished through a series of interrogatories, depositions, and the collecting of documents. Sometimes, during discovery, spouses can request temporary alimony payments (pedente lite) and child custody for the duration of the divorce process.
Once it has been established what the assets of the marriage are, it’s time for both parties to declare what they want. What portion of the assets they want, alimony payments and custody will all come up and each party will argue for what they imagine is their fair share. Most attorneys and judges will push for a settlement. If everyone can agree on all the terms of the divorce then it will be settled and that much closer to being over. However, in a contested divorce, a settlement cannot be reached. If even one aspect of the divorce terms is unacceptable to one of the parties, then the divorce will be contested and will have to proceed to the next step.
The Trial Phase
A contested divorce in Florida is no cakewalk, and the next phase of the process reflects that. Now the divorce is going to trial. The trial will vary a lot depending on your Family Court System, but you can prepare for a lengthy preparation process. There will be a waiting period before your case can go to trial. Usually, the length of the wait will depend on how many cases the courts are currently dealing with. Once the trial actually begins, you can expect the works. There will likely be witnesses called in and cross-examined, evidence will be introduced, etc.
After an order for dissolution is entered, a party can file for a post-trial motion for relief from the judgment, appeal, and motions for enforcement of the Court’s orders. The contested divorce process can be a lengthy one, so be sure to find an experienced family law attorney, whom you will be able to get along well with, and that will advocate in your best interest.