How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Florida
When marital bliss turns into sustained marital turmoil, one or both spouses often start contemplating divorce. Likewise, when either marital partner seeks bliss in the arms of a third party, and sometimes when the wedded bliss evaporates and leaves a spouse wondering how they ever ended up married in the first place. Whether due to strife, infidelity, or loss of affection, anyone thinking about ending a marriage wonders how long it might take to get a divorce. And, depending on the reasons driving end-of-marriage contemplation, some people yearn for a quick divorce.
If asked how long it takes to get a divorce in Florida, the experienced divorce lawyers at Tallahassee-based Cowhey + Ward Attorneys at Law will tell you that it primarily depends on the type of divorce filed. You might be able to get a an uncontested divorce within two weeks, and a contested divorce in a year. However, don’t bank on any of these rough timelines, as divorce, like marriage itself, can be complicated.
In short, any number of factors can slow the pace of your divorce, especially if it’s contested. And know that no matter which divorce option you pursue, one spouse must be a resident of Florida for six months before they can file for divorce. Let’s take a closer look at two different divorce options and how they might actually play out in real-time.
The Uncontested Option for Those Who Can Compromise
The uncontested divorce option is similar to the simplified dissolution of marriage option in that both spouses must completely agree to divorce terms. This option is available to couples with or without children. With an uncontested agreement, both spouses must agree on terms guiding:
- Child custody
- Parenting plans
- Child support
- Division of property
- Allocation of debt
- Resolution of taxation issues
Even if both spouses enter negotiations for an uncontested divorce, disagreements can arise, and couples may need to engage in mediation to resolve outstanding issues. An experienced divorce lawyer can help spouses navigate the successful resolution of an uncontested divorce and ensure that the terms of the marital settlement agreement will meet legal requirements.
The timing for finalizing an uncontested divorce is dictated primarily by how long it takes for the couple to come to complete agreement on all terms of the divorce.
The Contested Option Brings in Court Intervention
Contested divorce proceedings arise when spouses cannot agree to all divorce terms before filing for divorce. Contested divorces take the longest to resolve because of divorce court intervention, mandatory mediation, and difficulty scheduling hearing times amenable to all parties, including lawyers and judges. That said, most contested divorce proceedings settle during the process and revert to uncontested when spouses and their lawyers successfully compromise outstanding issues, typically during the mediation phase.
A contested divorce is initiated when one spouse files a petition for dissolution of marriage with the divorce court. Once the court delivers a summons and the petition to the other spouse, they have 20 days to file a response. With the petition and response in hand, the court moves the procedure into the discovery phase, in which both parties must disclose financial information. In general, the more assets involved in a divorce, the longer it might take to complete the discovery phase. One or both spouses may be reluctant to disclose financial information, which forces the opposing side to seek court enforcement of disclosure requests. This can take time and may require one or more court hearings to resolve.
Divorce attorneys can also seek court-ordered depositions to further flesh out disagreements between the parties and help provide further disclosure that can help influence the divorce court judge’s decision-making. In a deposition, each attorney is allowed to question a spouse under oath in an effort to uncover additional disclosure information relevant to the outcome of the divorce.
To encourage the settlement of contested divorces, Florida requires mediation during the process, whether through the court or with the assistance of a private mediator. Due to busy court schedules, private mediation is usually the quicker option. As previously noted, negotiations often lead to divorce settlements, and most settlements are reached during mediation.
Many contested divorces that successfully negotiate resolution during mediation can be concluded in under a year. However, those that go on to trial typically take at least a year, and even much longer when significant assets and/or other elements—such as childcare decisions—are disputed.
Turn to an Experienced Tallahassee Divorce Lawyer
Anyone undergoing divorce should seek out the services of an experienced family law attorney. Divorce can be one of the most financially and emotionally stressful experiences in a person’s life, leading to outcomes that can significantly impact the rest of one’s life. Cowhey + Ward’s Adam Cowhey has extensive experience negotiating complex divorce agreements for his Tallahassee area clients and a stellar reputation for delivering favorable outcomes through negotiations and in divorce court.
To learn more about how Cowhey + Ward can help you strategize the best outcome for your divorce, contact our Tallahassee-based office today at (850) 222-1000.