Steps in a Florida Divorce


Common procedures followed by many family law courts in Florida

florida divorce steps

Divorce Court Steps and Procedure in Florida


Begin Divorce

You are on the way to getting more power by studying this chart. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or are using an attorney, your divorce will be smoother and more stress-free if you have an overview of the entire process.


The majoflorida divorce stepsrity of divorces take the path that ends at mediation, followed by a final hearing. If you can successfully negotiate for the things you want, the path through mediation offers the least-cost, least-stressful way to your divorce. Throughout this website you will see certain words used frequently: negotiate, bargain, deal, trade, mediate, and settle. That is because divorce is more of a negotiation than a lawsuit. You should learn everything you can and take an active part in negotiation. This approach will get you a better settlement.

The people who come out ahead treat divorce for what it really is: a negotiation over money and property, and future provisions for your children. People with children should always keep one important thing in mind: children are not money or property and your goal is to give them the most support possible throughout this process.


Gather Your Information

Gathering the information you will need will be time consuming. You must start immediately, make a detailed list, and invest the time needed to do a good job. The end result will give you more information to make decisions. If you later go to court a judge will look very favorably on someone with excellent documentation.

You will need at least three years of tax returns for you and your spouse. Five years is better if you have them. If you don’t have them you should immediately order copies from the IRS. Look in our self help center under the forms section for the IRS request for copies.

Gather at least several years of bank statements, cancelled checks, and credit card statements. Also get a copy of mortgage statements, deeds, and records of property ownership. This includes everything you can get your hands on – car titles, receipts for furniture, and anything of value. When in doubt – get the paperwork.

Business owners or spouses of business owners – it is essential that you take control of business records. Unless you are experienced at reviewing these records box them up and keep them in a safe, hidden place.

Office supply stores sell portable file boxes that are good for organizing, storing, and transporting your paperwork. You should work and rework your collection until it is complete, organized, and easy to find. A helpful tool is a typed list of your paperwork sorted by type.


Divorce Petition

steps for divorce in florida - petitionThe petition is the start of a divorce. It does not matter who filed the petition – both spouses have equal rights. You can find a form for a petition in our forms center. The petition informs the court you are seeking a divorce, makes some initial claims, and lists the financial and custody arrangements the petitioning spouse seeks.

Many petitions ask for everything in the world – including assets and custody arrangements that are extremely biased. Courts rarely give someone everything they ask for. Don’t let the contents of the petition worry you because the terms will be changed, negotiated, and discussed many times in the coming months. Many attorneys routinely ask for everything, knowing they will only get what the parties agree to or what the judge decides on.

The spouse that receives the petition must file an answer within 20 days of receiving the petition. This is important! If you decide to use an attorney, don’t bring the petition in when it will expire in several days. Your attorney must have ample time to read it, listen to your side, and make a decision on what to include in the answer.


Serving Papers on Your Spouse

Service is required for the petition, the answer, and any other paperwork filed with the court. Service is accomplished by “serving” or in other words – delivering a copy of your paperwork to the other party.

Many movies about courtroom proceedings show a party surprised in court by the sudden introduction of paperwork, witnesses, or other evidence. In the real-world surprises are not allowed. In fact, your paperwork is invalid, your evidence is inadmissible, and your witnesses cannot testify if the other party does not know in advance what you are planning to show the court.

Petitions must be hand delivered to the opposing party by a sheriff or a certified process server. Answers, motions, copies of evidence, and witness lists may be mailed to the opposing party. This is a complex area of law and courts require strict compliance. Make sure you know the rules before a do-it-yourself attempt.


Financial Disclosure – Mandatory Disclosure

Florida law requires each spouse to send a financial disclosure form to the other side. This is also called Mandatory Disclosure. In every divorce, all “cards” must be on the table. This means each side must have a good picture of all the assets, liabilities, income, and expenses of both parties.

The basic required form is a financial affidavit. The financial affidavit form lists all your assets, liabilities, income and expenses. A judge can hold a party in contempt of court if this information is not submitted to the opposing party. You will probably have to give the other side copies of tax returns, bank statements, statements of retirement accounts, and paycheck stubs.The financial disclosure must accompany the petition, answer, and any other action affecting alimony, property division, or child support. A form is normally filed with financial disclosure, called the Certificate of Mandatory Disclosure.


Q: Can we both agree not to exchange financial information?

A: The two of you can waive all financial disclosure with one exception – you both must file financial affidavits.


Q: My spouses financial affidavit contains lies or inaccurate numbers. What now?

A: You must attend a hearing after filing a “Motion to Compel” form. Be prepared to tell the judge what the problem is and why you think the financial information is incorrect.



Discovery is a fancy word that refers to the process of getting information from the other side and the outside world. The word is used because each side is allowed to “discover” what is available to help them prevail in their case. Discovery can take the form of records subpoenas, requests for info from the other side, and depositions of potential witnesses.



Negotiation is encouraged but not required by the court. But your main emphasis should be on negotiation because you have an opportunity to get what you want and end the entire process quickly. The alternative is to have a judge spend several hours listening to your facts and then make a binding decision. The end result is a court order that satisfies neither party. The other benefit of negotiation: if you come to an agreement the total costs of your divorce will be much less than if you fight it out in court.



mediation - a step in a florida divorceBoth parties and their attorneys must meet with a mediator and attempt to work out an agreement on all contested issues. The court will not enter a final judgment, or schedule a final hearing until the parties attempted to settle at mediation. Most mediators are family law attorneys or have masters degrees in counseling. The Florida Supreme Court must certify a mediator before they can provide this service. The mediator must not show any preference for either party.

The important thing to note is the mediator has no authority to force a settlement. Any agreement must come from you or your spouse. And everything in mediation is confidential. No one can later say to the judge “he said” or “she said” during mediation. If you do not come to an agreement, nothing said during mediation counts. If you do come to an agreement, that agreement is written up and signed by both parties. The next step will be a 5 minute hearing before a judge – where the final judgment is signed.

Questions about Divorce Mediation and Mediators:

Q: How is the divorce mediator appointed?

A: If the divorce has been filed, the court will enter a order of referral to mediation. Most courts have mediation departments that will assign a mediator. If you have an attorney, that person will negotiate the selection of the mediator.

Q: How can I get the mediator to decide in my favor?

A: This is a trick question! Mediators have no authority and never make decisions. The only thing your ARE required to do is show up. The mediator cannot force anyone to do anything.

Q: Can I tell the judge what my spouse said in mediation?

A: Mediation is confidential. What is said there stays there. A mediation report is sent to the court. That report can say there was an impasse, or contain the text of a signed agreement. Nothing else concerning the mediation session can be reported to the court.

Q: What happens if we come to an agreement?

A: The agreement is written up by the mediator. If everyone is in agreement with the terms, everyone signs. The agreement may be titled: mediated agreement, mediated settlement agreement, or marital settlement agreement. In any case, the mediated agreement is binding the moment it is signed and you must immediately obey the terms.


Final Hearing after a Successful Divorce Mediation

If mediation was successful you now have an agreement signed by both parties. The agreement should cover all previously contested issues such as property division, child custody, child support, and visitation schedules. The final hearing is typically attended by the petitioner and his or her attorney. The other party may attend but is not required to attend.

final hearing in a divorceThe judge will look at the agreement and make sure it complies with legal requirements. One issue the judge will look at is whether child support is in compliance with the Florida guidelines. The judge will also need to see evidence that the petitioner has been a Florida resident for 6 months immediately preceding the petition. This is typically shown with a copy of the petitioner’s drivers license. The petition must also state the marriage cannot be saved and is irretrievably broken.

The judge will enter an order of dissolution, grant a name change if requested, and incorporate terms of the mediation agreement. The judges judicial assistant can provide “conformed copies.” These copies serve as additional copies the petitioner can take home. When the final order is signed, you are legally single.



Case Management Conference

If mediation does not produce a complete agreement you either must schedule another mediation or prepare for a court battle. It is possible to produce a limited mediation agreement, narrowing the issues to be contested in court.

The case management hearing is a short hearing, attended by both parties or attorneys. The court notes any agreed-to issues and any hotly contested issues. Also, the court sets a timeline for the rest of your divorce action based on feedback from both parties. Finally, the final hearing is allotted a certain amount of time based on the amount of contested issues. The case management hearing is primarily held to ensure an orderly divorce process. No major, critical issues are decided at this hearing. Another important purpose of case management is to make sure both parties are cooperating with discovery issues. This means you have submitted the financial affidavit and any other required financial documents.

For divorces filed in Pasco County, Florida, the courts have recently begun to schedule case management conferences for cases that appear to be stalled. Sometimes the case management conferences are scheduled at random, for no apparent reason. In any case, the conferences are normally held by a General Magistrate – a slightly different type of judge. The client must attend any conference, and be prepared to discuss any issues in the case, such as lack of financial disclosure.

For divorces filed in Tampa, Florida, a case management conference is automatically scheduled by the court at the same time the divorce is filed. It is normally set 90 days after the date of the petition. Both clients and attorneys must be there. The Tampa Courts have recently indicated harsh treatment for people who refuse to cooperate with financial disclosure. There is a possibility of a 10 day jail sentence if you do not submit your required financial info.

Many other counties appear to be following this trend – to apply force to people who fail to comply with court-ordered requirements. special type of case management hearing – called a pretrial conference may be held to determine “housekeeping” issues for the final trial.



Between the time of the petition and the final hearing, you may have cause to file various motions with the court. These motions may include:

  • Motion to compel discovery – if the opposing party does not comply with discovery requests
  • Motion for temporary support or fees – if one party needs temporary alimony, child support, or cannot afford their own attorney fees
  • Motion for contempt – if the opposing party repeatedly does not obey a court order
  • Motions are filed with the court and the opposing party. A short hearing is scheduled where a judge will consider the motion. If the opposing party, through their fault or refusal to comply, causes the need to file a motion, the judge may award attorney fees needed to file and argue that motion.



A deposition is a proceeding that is conducted outside of the courthouse. There is no judge present. Normally there are two clients, two attorneys, and a court reporter. A deposition is an opportunity to ask a witness questions and hear the answers before a judge will hear them. That way an attorney can know what the answers are to certain questions long before trial. Depositions are also handy before key motion hearings.

Another use of a deposition is to “lock in” someone’s version of the truth. If a person answers one way at a deposition, and then answers a different way at a hearing – the deposition can be used to show the change in story.

Depositions are expensive. Not only is there an hourly rate for the court reporter but there is also a significant fee for the transcript. Court reporters can be present at a hearing without the necessity of ordering a transcript. That is a way to ensure a transcript of the hearing is available if later needed.



A subpoena can be issued by attorneys or by self-represented parties. Subpoenas can be used to get records from outside parties or to compel the attendance of witnesses. It is rare for subpoenas to be issued before mediation. That is because most cases settle by mediation and there is a desire to hold down costs. But the second a case is destined for trial it is necessary to begin planning how to obtain documents and witnesses. That is what a subpoena is used for – to prepare for trial.


Pretrial Hearing

Only cases on their way to a contested trial have a pre-trial hearing. And not every judge will order a pre-trial hearing. Normally, clients must attend, and their attorneys must attend.

A pretrial hearing is a “ground rules” session. The judge will expect to hear what issues are still contested, how many witnesses are to be called, whether there are disclosure problems, and if there are other procedural problems to be solved. If there are two attorneys – they will normally asked for a certain amount of time for the trial. Depending on the judge, the parties may be ordered to a second mediation. Or the judge may decide to set the trial date and allocate a certain amount of time.


Final Trial when Issues are Still Contested in a Divorce

If mediation was unsuccessful, you now must convince the court to decide your way on contested issues such as property division, child custody, child support, and visitation schedules.

court trialThe final hearing is attended by both parties. You must also bring any evidence and witnesses. Remember, the court will not consider evidence or witnesses that the other side did not receive advance notice of.

The judge will listen to both sides. Typically the petitioner goes first. The petitioner calls each witness and direct examines them. This consists of a series of questions. The other party, the respondent, gets to cross examine each witness after the petitioner’s questions. When the petitioner is done the respondent gets to go through the same process.

When the respondent is done the parties give closing statements. The judge will consider all facts and evidence presented at the hearing. The judge may also consider the demeanor of the witnesses. Put simply, demeanor consists of facial expressions and mannerisms that may suggest honesty or dishonesty. Also, the judge may consider anything that has a direct impact on the issues at hand.

The judge will give a decision regarding property division, alimony, child support, custody, and visitation. The judge will then request one of the parties prepare and mail a proposed order. This order must be sent to and approved by the opposing party. The only grounds for non-approval would be if the proposed order does not match what the judge decided. If approved, the order is mailed to the judge, signed, and entered in the court records.

The judge’s judicial assistant will mail “conformed copies” to both parties. These copies serve as legally binding orders. When the final order is signed, you are legally single.

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Cheri was referred to me by another local attorney who was not taking any more clients. I couldn’t be happier to have had her represent me during my case. She is very professional and kind. I had another attorney who was great but I dealt with his assistant most of the time. With Cheri I could always go to her directly if I needed to. She is busy too of course but always found time to answer questions for me and calm my nerves. She gave me all of my options from the least costly to other options that may cost more but are worth it. I am glad I took her advice. In the hearing with the judge she was very professional and had my whole case together. She handled herself very well and made the opposing counsel look like a college student. She knows her stuff! Very knowledgable, professional, caring and dependable. I’d highly recommend her!

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  • valencc7

    Hi…I need some guidance.

    Ex and I married in NY. Ex went back to her country of Colombia S.A I am currentkly living in FL. Because it was more expensive to get divorce in US we divorced in Colombia. It was mutual and it has all been completed (legally divorced in Colombia). How/where do I present the divorce papers in US so that it can be recognozed here as well? What is the process to be followed?


    • HowardIken

      You do not really need to present the papers in the US – your divorce is valid. But if it is really important to you there is a process to register the order in your local county.

  • fed up

    married 24 years. Wife constantly maxed out credit cards over that time so that now we owe 485,000.00 on a house we paid 149,000.00 for in 1996 plus an addiotional 49,000.00 on cards that she stopped paying on years ago. She also stopped paying the mortgage for a year and bought a new car cash with the money. I found out when I was served for foreclosure.
    she has had a boyfriend the last 2 years which I tried to ignore since we hadnt had any physical relationship for 6 years due to her refusal to have one.
    Then in November I saw that she was transferring money (4500.00) over the last year from our checking and savings accts into a “private” acct she apparently started.
    So I changed my direct deposit to a new account and took over the bill paying.
    She then brought our 13 year old daughter into the room and told her we were getting a divorce.
    Nothing happened for several months so I had her served.
    In her response she is asking for the house, 6 types of alimony and My daughter for taxes as a dependant.
    Keep in mind that she claims to make only 76.00 a month though she is gone every night and all weekend.
    What do I have to look forward to?

    • HowardIken

      Does not sound like the best of situations. You probably want to get a bankruptcy consult just to check on possible options. We provide bankruptcy representation. On alimony – almost every petition requests every type of available alimony. This is almost standard. And just because she is asking for it does not mean she will get alimony. This will depend on the facts of your divorce case. Sorry for the limited response. There is too little info here to give any kind of really specific opinion. We do give free in-person divorce consults. It wouldn’t hurt for you to take advantage of that.

  • Shannon Whitman

    In the process of starting stage 1 of Divorce i would like to get the parenting class out of the way, Where would I go for that? St Pete area

  • Carol Johnson

    My husband and I have been married for two and a half years now. Going into the marriage he knew that I have a debilitating condition that makes it impossible for me to hold down a job. He told my mother, oldest son and three of my brothers at different times that he would take care of me financially for the rest of my life even if we didn’t end up getting married. My question is, are those statements legally binding?

    • HowardIken

      I do not believe so. The only exception would be if the disability originally occurred during the marriage. That does not mean you should not give it a try. Every attorney has a different opinion on various issues.

  • Pamela Felines

    I am going to file for a divorce soon, and am disabled. I need to stay in the home with my disabled mom that has lived with me and my husband for over 5 yrs. I need alimony to pay the morg, and other bills as well as cost of living, what do I need to know? I have been married for 16 yrs and lived with my husb for 6 yrs before we got married. I became disabled and unable to work in 1999-2000, and have been dependent on my husband which he has never let me forget that I became disabled, he has never been there for me. The mental abuse, drug and alcohol abuse has took its toll on our marriage. I am filing for a divorce this month. Thank you, Florida

    • HowardIken

      That is a really HUGE question. It sounds like you have a legitimate alimony claim. But to answer your question there would need to be more available information. You really should set up a confidential consultation in our office.

  • agushee

    I want to file for Divorce in Paso County. My husband is leaving the state to go to Chicago to move in with his gitrlfriend. I am staying here in Florida. He has a 401 k and be came to an agreement on what I will be getting from it but how can we make it legal so that I am sure to receive my portion? That is the only thing that we have that needs to be settled. We have come to terms with who is taking what and we have no children together. We have been married for 7 years and living together for 14 total. I was hoping to file this myself and still have my 401k agreement legal and binding. Is there a inexpensive way for this all to happen?

    • HowardIken

      You are going to need a QDRO to split the 401K. Another option: some plans allow a spouse to open up a similar type of account and then “roll over” funds into their account. You need to check with the plan administrator for that option. The cost of QDRO preparation is approx $500.

  • Carlos Rodriguez

    My wife and I are divorcing and we agree on the terms and we have a grandson with full custody. She´ll be responsible for his up bringing and she´ll keep the house cars and any other possesions that we have. The only thing that I´ll keep is my social security beneffits. Is threre any problems in doing so and what´ll be the charges.

    • HowardIken

      Normally social security benefits are never split. If you were married 10 years or more, the spouse that earned less money will get a boost in their social security entitlement. But that boost will now decrease or affect the social security benefit of the other spouse.

  • Angie

    I spoke to my husband several times and he never told me he filed for divorce, I called the court found out it was granted June 3, 2013

    • HowardIken

      You can file a Motion to Set Aside the Final Judgment. That will have the effect of voiding the judgment, based on fraud. Of course you need to decide if there is some potential benefit to you before you go through that.

  • Lauren

    What happens if we have a contested divorce with a minor child and my husband doesn’t show up at the final hearing?

    • HowardIken

      Within reason – you will get everything you want.

      • Lauren

        Really?!?!!!! Even Sole custody if I wanted it? Because he hasn’t been in her life AT ALL within the 2 and a half years she’s been born. And hasn’t paid a dime in child support. Not even back pay from the time she was born. And what I’m really nervous about is that he’ll take her from me just to be spiteful and that’s not right. My daughter doesn’t even know who he is and has never even seen him… :(

        • HowardIken

          Yes – all of that is possible. But you still need to present reasons to the judge why you want all of that. Having an attorney is best but not absolutely necessary.

  • Mom In Desperation

    I am currently living and working in Germany and have lived here for 7 years now. Originally came here on military orders with spouse who was active duty. We have a 5 yr. old child together. He was chaptered out last year for continual misconduct and there were several cases with social service prior to that for domestic abuse to myself and my son from my prior marriage. I have a job with the DoD here and support my children on my own with no financial support from him since he left in April of 2012. I am a Florida certified teacher and would eventually like to return to teach there again. He has had no contact with me in months and there was a no-contact order placed on him by the command prior to his departing the country. He is currently back in Florida but I have no idea if he working or what he doing. I desperately need to file for divorce and I want sole custody of my child. I am afraid to even consider returning to the states because of his unstable and impulsive behaviors along with the threat of taking my life that he made while he was still an active duty soldier. How can I file for my divorce and for sole custody since I live here and have no intentions of returning to Florida anytime in the near future because I have a job and a home here. My child was born here and is a US citizen but has never lived anywhere else. I was told the courts where the child lives has jurisdiction as to the custody of the child. We were married in Florida in 2005. I’m assuming the divorce needs to be filed through a Florida court. How / Can I file for child support for my child although I want sole custody and would the decision of the court here transfer to the states if I eventually return in the future? I have consulted with a German attorney and was told that the divorce and child support process could be done by here through the State of Florida and that the custody could be done here but that I may possibly have to have a Florida court review the case before honoring the decision made here if I ultimately would return to the states. I have all the determination letters from social services for the abuse cases where my son and I both were assaulted as well as other evidence of my damaged belongings from his rage. Not sure what to do to get the ball rolling. Also, how would it work if I returned to the states but to another state instead, to live and work? Any good advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time!

    • HowardIken

      It would be best if you pursued a divorce and custody decree in Germany – if the courts will take jurisdiction. Since you lived in Germany as a couple, I do not believe the US based courts will have issue with recognizing and enforcing the decree. There is a process in Florida to convert an outside decree to a Florida order.

      • Mom in Desperation

        Thank you very much for your response! This is what I thought would be best but wasn’t quite sure! The whole 6 month rule in Florida before filing has had me confused since I am staying here for a bit longer. I am assuming that the filing of the divorce, although I live over here can actually be started and would be an exception to the 6 month rule! Just wondering if you think that the custody decision would really hold up in the states and how difficult would it be to convert to a Florida or stateside order when needed?Would this process require all of us to go back to court and redo everything or would it be just a matter of paper work more than anything else? Thank you in advance!

        • HowardIken

          In general, orders from other jurisdictions are respected and followed by the Florida courts

  • trudy

    My boyfriend just recently finalized his divorce after 2 years. He went to a hearing in front of a general magistrate in Hillsborough county florida. We just received the final orders and its not what the general magistrate said it was going to be. What can he do to fight this?

    • HowardIken

      He has 10 days from the date of the order to file a Notice of Exception. That is a very technical procedure and the time frame is absolute.’

      • trudy

        on the papers it said that he waived the right for the 10 day exception. I am assuming it was because it was all settled and he was happy with what the general magistrate said he was going to get in the divorce. What can he do now?

        • HowardIken

          He did not necessarily waive his rights. But that does make it even more complex. Something needs to be filed Monday morning.

          • Trudy

            Thank you for the responses. you are a life saver. He jut got home and noticed that some things are reversed as far as assets go. he gets his cars and she gets hers but they have it the opposite way on paper. What should we file on Monday?

          • HowardIken

            Sorry, I cannot go further than that. I would need to read everything and do some research. I am responsible for what I say, even on this website. This is not a simple q and a type of situation.

  • lik

    I filed for divorce in June of 2013, the respondent has failed to complete his parenting course and two court ordered mediation sessions, we just had a second final hearing but have been reset back to meditation how can I speed up the process the only issue is child custody

    • HowardIken

      Child custody is a huge issue. I assume neither side has an attorney ?? It is obvious that the judge is used to spoon-feeding self-represented parties. It is frustrating that any delays are due to the other side not completing their requirements. But it sounds like there is nothing you will be able to do. But in the end, the misbehavior of the other party will give you a big advantage in your case.

  • Fl

    If an attorney does not have an argument to support his/her client can that client request to have their money refunded? The argument was not formulated even though the client made attempts to give evidence to the attorney and was never informed of an actual plan before entering the court room. That case actual went to the opposing party as a result of the client not knowing what direct the attorney would go in, and because no evidence or argument was presented in defence of the client. The client has never dealt with legal court or attorneys before and does not know the do’s and don’t in court and fears representing them-self. They also cannot afford to change to another attorney because this attorney is actually their second attorney. Their first attorney took a large sum of money from the client and was asking the client to give in to the opposing party without sorting through the client’s evidence. Can they also go after that attorney? Is there a deadline for these matters? What help is given would be greatly appreciated. -Florida

    • HowardIken

      I do feel for you. I would imagine you did not do well in court. I do not normally comment on these types of questions. This service that we provide is intended for divorce related questions.

  • Ringling

    THANK YOU IN ADVANCE for your help!!

    BACKGROUND: Parties, unfortunately, cannot afford attorneys on either side and are doing the best they can to get thru this process with the help of the Clerk of the Court. Petition for Dissolution has been filed, and Respondent has provided his response w/in the 20 day period. The divorce is not contested, but there is one minor child; hence the battle ensues. The parents have been living apart for years (Mother is the primary care-giver; father visits 1-2x/month sporadically and does not contribute financially – at least on a consistent basis $80/month – here & there). Mother has already filed for child support, so that is in process and not a concern.

    ISSUE: However, all of a sudden Father is demanding to take child for overnights to his new home where he lives with: (1) other adult male (1) adult female (and here (1) teenage daughter who has severe mental health issues). Father has indicated to mother that 8 yoa daughter will share a room w/ other adult female’s teenager. **Note this teenage, nor her mother are neither married nor related to Father in the divorce matter/issue at hand.

    As such, Mother has many concerns about these living arrangements. The court said it will be 8-10 months before their case will be heard (and that long before time sharing is in place). Husband & Wife cannot agree regarding time sharing and have not attended mediation yet. It is a very hostile situation b/t Mother & Father. Now that Father is making demands to see and take his daughter, Mother understands that they each have equal rights to their daughter (since no order in place yet)

    How can Mother of 8 yoa,— before final order is given by the Ct or settled in mediation (unlikely) —

    1) protect her daughter from living in an questionable household (Father will not allow mother to meet other ppl living in Father’s home no will he provide mother any information about them);

    2) get a sooner order from the Ct (such as a temporary order regarding timesharing) until the divorce is complete; and

    3) ensure that Father will return daughter at the end of the weekend when he threatening not to bring her back “until he feels like it” (No threat f leaving FL, however – just to hold her).

  • Nana

    Married a little over a year pregnant before got married. Baby is nine months old. Husband deployed a year of marriage but came home for the birth of child and left back for Afghanistan when baby was 2 weeks old. Wife would not allow him to see baby after the deployment or since. Will not give any information on baby’s milestones or ver few pictures given to him either. What do we do

    • HowardIken

      Even if the baby was born before the marriage – the marriage “legitimized” the baby. That means the baby is considered to be born of the marriage. The only thing to do is to file for divorce and seek a defined parenting plan.

  • Nana

    Can she legally use the child as spite and vengeance

  • Judy

    Through a divorce/custody situation where the mom has not allowed the father to see the baby nor has she shared any information on the baby’s development,any type of his milestones, pictures and ect. Will this be harmful to her during the hearing

    • HowardIken

      Most definitely. But only if that fact is brought out for the judge.

  • M

    Had a divorce case heard in front of the Magistrate. a default was entered against the other party. They never did the parenting course or appeared at the hearing. How long after the Report and recommendation from a magistrate until the divorce is final? Is there another hearing?

    • HowardIken

      There should not be another hearing. The Report will be signed by a Circuit Court Judge in approx 10 days.

      • M

        it has been almost 3 weeks. is it appropriate to contact the judge’s or magistrate’s assistant to inquire when it will be done?

        • HowardIken

          Better done by an attorney. But I do not see how it could hurt you.

  • VLC

    Can a couple seeking simplified dissolution waive the 20 day wait

    • HowardIken

      I believe so. But the chances of getting in front of a judge in that short a time are slim to none.

      • VLC

        Okay , with the papers being signed and filed together is there any likelihood process being finalized in less than 60 days?

        • HowardIken

          Yes. Depending on some other factors. But a definite yes.

          • VLC

            Thank you , one last question if I may … In the simplified petition … Questions 6&7 regarding finicial agreements and disclosure : it says check only one each – we’ve chosen the laters , keeping agreement private and waiving the filing … Should we have turned in either forms 12.902 f , b or when it clearly states to check one option or the other , leading us to believe we should not turn in if we wanted infact to remain private and waive ??

          • HowardIken

            Sorry but I do not know anything about the self-help forms. I have never given them a careful look.

  • cherry

    My husband lives in Florida and I do not. I waived to not fight for anything and yet I was asked to appear in court. I can not afford to do so. What do I do now?

    • HowardIken

      Sorry, not enough info here. I would need to read the court documents before answering.

  • Billy

    If a couple comes to an agreement outside of court, which attorney files the settlement agreement?The petitioner or respondent, or it doesn’t matter?

    • HowardIken

      It does not matter. Either side can do it.

  • Amanda

    If ex is being investigated by the local sheriffs dept. and there is a custody issues in the divorce will the judge wait to rule on that matter? Also, can the judge ask any questions on that? He has admitted to me and to one of his victims (there are a few) and there are controlled calls,statements etc from victims. Also, even with the investigation going on I have not denied him access to the kids because he has not attempted to even try to speak or see them but is telling his lawyer I am keeping them from him, we currently live in the same yard 2 different houses until I can get moved.

    • HowardIken

      In a criminal case you are innocent till proven guilty. That means a family law judge will not act a certain way just because of a police investigation.

  • Mario

    We had Mediation on October 3rd. and we came to an agreement. How long until I receive the last hearing date? We filed for divorce on July 14. It’s been 3 months.

    • HowardIken

      Depends on the court. Especially if you do not have an attorney. Normally an attorney will manually schedule a date for the final judgment.

  • Erin Cherisma Iswi Stokes

    Is it mandatory for both parties to attend A Case Management Conference?

    • HowardIken

      Most judges prefer attendance by both side. But that does vary a bit. Another reason to attend – the judge may choose to finalize the case at the Case Management Conference. And in a simplified divorce, the two you you need to attend the final hearing.

      • Erin Cherisma Iswi Stokes

        Thank you!

  • JL

    I just found out my husband filed for divorce behind my back. Apparently, a summons was issued in my name, but sent to his attorney. A case management conference was set. I still have not been served. How can a conference be held without me being served? Also, he was just sent overseas, and now I find out that the conference is still going on, but a motion was filed to extend the service time. All the while, my husband is telling me he wants to still work on our marriage. Help, please

    • HowardIken

      It sounds like they are planning to serve you. But you do not have the obligation to attend any court proceedings until you are served. If you have not been served the court will not do anything on the case management conference date.

  • LoveOne

    My spouse and I have agreed on a divorce, and will have a hearing next week,I am the only one who lives in Florida. Can he have a notarized letter prepared so that when the copy would be mailed to him after the final hearing it could be sent to our old address since I still reside here? The reason I am asking, he will be moving overseas, and will not have an address by the time. We agreed that I could mail him his copy. Would that be acceptable in florida?

    • HowardIken

      I am not sure what you are asking. You simply need to mail him a copy sometime after the order is signed.

      • LoveOne

        I am refering to after the divorce is final, and I received the divorce decree, the court needs to mail him a copy of that. Can he write a notarized letter asking the court to send it to our old address at which we lived at, until he provides me with his new address overseas.

        • HowardIken

          He can request a copy wherever he wants. But it would be best for you to send him a copy. The court does not necessarily have a mechanism to cater to him.

  • Corrinas2

    Doing a pro se divorceand I receivedthe magistrates opinionon our divorceit was filed 11/20/2014. I thought the judge had 15 days from that date to finalize the divorce. Was I wrong??

    • HowardIken

      Yes, that is correct. Sometimes the judge is behind.

  • Nxtmedia

    am (was) the caregiver and stay at home Dad for my son since 2009. She filed for divorce in Oct. My wife has yet to complete the required parenting class for our divorce. She is well over 60 days from the required 45 days. What do I need to do; as she is breaking or avoiding to complete the process?

    She has also not sent or filed the required financial disclosure, which is also over 60 days from the filing. Since she started the process she has either sold and/or moved items from our home, purchased a car and called the bank and had my car taken away from me. It was in her name, but I agreed to pay for it, since we are getting a divorce, which I was. Bank stated it is in her name she has the right to call a repro on the vehicle. Isn’t the vehicle a martial asset and shouldn’t be removed until final judgement. I’m now vehicle-less and may lose my job as there is no public transportation were I live.

    • HowardIken

      You must enforce these requirements by filing Motions in court.

      • Nxtmedia

        Does the judge within the case see or notice this or is it ignored?

        • HowardIken

          It usually just sits in the court file until you push it forward with a hearing. Some court jurisdictions have a mechanism that automatically results in a hearing.

          • Nxtmedia

            Filing motions, does it or can it really affect the outcome of the case?

          • HowardIken

            Of course, yes.

  • Curious

    Are clients that are divorcing allowed to review their Attorney’s Pretrial Catalog before it is submitted to the court?

    • HowardIken

      Not necessarily. In general, the client determines the goals and the attorney determines the means. A Pretrial memo goes under “means.”

  • Maude

    After 5 years, and many hearings and pre trial and two trial with continuances, I am divorced but yet nothing settled. It has been established that everything I own was premarital or I inherited during marriage, I am also blind. My husband never worked at all during our 9 year marriage, he quit his job 6 months after the wedding and never worked again. My lawyers says it looks like the opposing attorney is trying to formulate her case during the questioning instead of doing or studying any information she was provided beforehand. The opposing attorney also makes many remarks concerning my disability as “I was seen driving a car” when I can’t walk around without a white cane and after inspecting my house, I was admonished for owning books or a tv set in open court…blind services who I recieve training for cane use and braille says this type of remarks are illegal for an attorney to use…anyway, everything I own is inherited and has been proven, my attorney says it is settled just have to get through the trial but the opposing attorney continues to delay….how long can this go on before a judge says enough?

    • HowardIken

      This does happen occasionally. Your attorney just needs to keep pushing for a trial date. Hopefully you have temporary relief established that can keep you going till trial.

  • Nxtmedia

    11 year marriage, Is it highly possible under the below conditions for me to receive fair ruling, spousal support, 100% or 50/50 with son and more than the required division of assets under the below conditions: the primary caregiver for our son, back injury (accident) under pain management, out of workforce for over 5 years, put out of home on false DV order, wife not in compliance over 170 days from filing, perjury in court under oath, false income statements (2 of them), pushing her business on me (with her name listed on checks and LLC), removal/sale of marital items, case managements recommendations for contempt, her ability to provide continuous health insurance for our son, her being the primary income earner (well over $60K), incurring undo stress on me, her malicious intent to stop me from making a living, making large purchase’s since filing, yet claiming she has no saving/money, living in the home and not paying the mortgage, along with moving in two none working adults and their 3 children with one of them as the witness (brothers girl friend, brother is married) in the DV order.

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      I always believe it is possible to get a fair ruling under any conditions. Our courts are not inherently corrupt. We have a system that tends to work. The thing that gets in the way is the fact that judges are human. They sometimes do no live up to the ideals in our laws. But overall, the system works.

      • Nxtmedia

        I would agree, it’s just that things seem a bit twisted right now. Never been to jail, traffic tickets or court in my 48 years on earth and now all of this. Never cheated, hit or abused my wife. Yet the court didn’t mind or didn’t care for the photos of her new boyfriend coming to the home right after i was thrown out, along with the above issues. I was very surprised at the ruling during the first hearing. which gave me nothing and handed me court income. Which made mediation even harder. As she now feels she can do anything. Still awaiting next date for part two of mediation.

  • Laura Breitzman

    For a divorce where both parties are fully in agreement, only one party is retaining an attorney, and custody, property division, etc are all drafted up and agreed up on by both parties upon commencing the divorce, how quickly could it be finalized?

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      Depends on the specific jurisdiction and judge. But normally pretty quick.

  • Alioop

    If been seperated from your husband for 4 years and he’s out of the country with no forwarding address. How can you divorce him?

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      You have to use a process called service by publication.

  • Nxtmedia

    Is it mandatory or just an open number of days (waiting over 140 days) for both parties to complete the “Parenting Class” within the first 45 days of filing? Is this the same for rule 12?

    Can motions be filed at any time when one party fails to complete a request? Is it an effective process to show to the judge how difficult it may be to deal with the other party?

    Can you force the other party to complete the divorce on a timely matter? Example: One party continues to delay, push back dates, refuses to produce and comes in with completely unreasonable offers during mediation, yet wants to have more mediation every 45 days.

    How quickly can one party or both get a trial date?

  • newlife543

    Filed for divorce on 4/2015. I did everything I was suppose to but my husband has not done anything. I filed a motion for default. Now we have mediation coming up and he says he is entering rehab for 60 days so he wont attend the mediation. I just was to be divorced already and we have a 3 year old that he doesnt see a lot. Then after rehab wants to move 70 miles away from us. How will this affect our divorce, child custody and final hearing?

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      You may want to be patient. It sounds like all of that will possibly work in your favor.

  • Wife32yrs

    After Mediation…impasse ..( what information is on the mediation report that is filed with the court?) .what happens now? how long before file for temporary order of support? Discovery of financials NOT PROVIDED YET? Compliance? Please indicate and how long before a court hearing for what is next?

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      It sounds like you need to file a Motion to Compel Discovery. Immediately after you get your info you can try for temporary relief. Timelines for hearings vary greatly between jurisdictions and judges.

  • Sheila Gorman

    Father was awarded house in divorce, mortgage is in both names and father is not on deed since 2008, only ex-spouse. She refuses to sign over a quit claim deed. Bank is filing foreclosure, and he can’t do anything without the quit claim deed….She has left the state, with no fowarding address….HELP!

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      Father needs to file an emergency motion.

  • Desperate

    Can you tell me how I get a mediation? I filed in February, my husband responded he was contesting. Since then he didn’t file the required disclosures in the time allotted. I filed a motion to compel. He complied but only filled it out part-way. Now I don’t know how to get to mediation. There is no one that will tell me what to do, and my attorney won’t even return my calls now that I have run out of money to pay him. I have spent $10k in 4 months, and have filed for divorce 6 months ago. No kids, and little assets. How do I get the court to help me?

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      Most court jurisdictions have an internal mediation department. You should try calling them.

  • Jackie Baldwin

    I am going through a divorce and it was recently set for trial. Upon start of trial it was discovered that my ex husband didn’t list assets on his financial disclosure. One of which was our business. The judge held him in contempt and he was arrested and able to purge upon an accurate financial disclosure. He was released and he still didn’t list the business as an asset. I have a case management conference coming up, will he be held in contempt for continuing to be non compliant ?

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      I would say “most likely”

  • Wasted time

    Filed for divorce in Dec 2014. Spouse obtained his attorney (a family member of his), on the 21st day of being served. They completed filing his response in Feb. Since then, we’ve litigated down to one contested sentence in the MSA. I believe they are stalling this divorce on purpose. How long does pasco county consider a divorce to be “stalled” before ordering mediation or conference? Once mediation is completed , how long before getting a final hearing? I’ve heard Pasco courts are back logged by more than 6 months.

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      The issue you must deal with is the fact that his attorney can “play” with scheduling. You have to affirmatively push the case forward. Sometimes that is difficult for a pro se (self represented party). I would suggest you contact the court mediation program and request that mediation is scheduled.

  • Gagensor

    my husband started or I thought he did with going thru a divorce, he seen an attorney and gave $500 but I haven’t been served yet. that happen June 15, a month and 1/2 now. I did seek an attorney and filled out a large package and now my attorney wants to know should “We are finalizing the settlement agreement and your financial affidavit. In the meantime, would you like the Petition to be filed with the Court prior to
    sending him the proposed Agreement?” I don’t understand..

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      It would make no sense for me to interpret the mind of your current attorney. You are best off asking the attorney for clarification.

  • Nxtmedia

    Can a spouse add debt after filing for divorce? Example: due to no financial support (caregiver/homemaker) or income, spouse had to borrow funds from either friends, family to support oneself. Can that debt be added (included) before final hearing or divorce finalized?

    • Attorney Howard Iken

      Usually not.