How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in Florida? was last modified: December 17th, 2016 by Howard Iken

how long does it take to get divorced in florida

How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in Florida?

Quick info:

How long does a divorce take in Florida?

The short answer to the question of how long your Florida divorce will take is that an uncontested Florida divorce generally takes about 3 months while the “average” contested Florida divorce generally takes about a year, but can take as long as two years, or, in extreme circumstances even longer. The amount of time your Florida divorce will take depends on the judge, the county you file in, whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, and whether you and/or your spouse are more likely to delay the process or speed it up.

The short answer to the question of how long your Florida divorce will take is that an uncontested Florida divorce generally takes about 3 months while the “average” contested Florida divorce generally takes about a year, but can take as long as two years, or, in extreme circumstances even longer. The amount of time your Florida divorce will take depends on the judge, the county you file in, whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, and whether you and/or your spouse are more likely to delay the process or speed it up. Like most things in life, there are many more details which can factor in to how long your Florida divorce will take.

 

Contested or Uncontested?

 

A very few people will actually be able to have an uncontested divorce. They are both in agreement about the divorce, have been married for a relatively short time, there are no children involved, and there are few assets to divide or both parties are in total agreement on asset division. Many people go into the process thinking they will have an uncontested divorce, only to find themselves knee deep in the middle of a very contested divorce. This usually happens when one spouse thinks the other is “on the same page,” either because the spouse has told them so, or because they assumed certain things. Either way, a formerly “on board” spouse for an uncontested divorce can turn things upside down in a heartbeat. Because of this, it is usually best to go into the process assuming there will be at least some issues which will be contentious—and therefore contested. Specifics about contested and uncontested divorces in Florida include:

 

  • Uncontested Divorce—The advantages to an uncontested divorce are many, because it is an altogether simpler way to get through a divorce. Uncontested divorces are less expensive and typically save both parties’ time and energy, while lessening the overall emotional trauma of the divorce. An uncontested divorce can minimize angry exchanges and eliminate nasty court battles, allowing both parties to hang on to their dignity and self-respect. Should both spouses be able to control their bitterness over the divorce and approach the details in a more practical and rational way, an uncontested divorce is definitely the way to go. Uncontested divorces are relatively common, and, in some cases, can work to the distinct advantage of both spouses. But sometimes an uncontested divorce can result in a disadvantage to one spouse or the other. This happens when one spouse convinces the other there is no need to get attorneys involved and they can easily work out the details of the divorce themselves. The spouse who agrees to this may find later on they gave up many important benefits and assets. There is a more extreme form of divorce that is called a Simplified Dissolution. Specific requirements of an simplified divorce in the state of Florida include:

 

  • There are no children of the marriage under the age of 18;
  • The wife is not currently pregnant;
  • Either the husband or the wife has resided in the state of Florida for at least six months;
  • There is total agreement on the division of assets and debts;
  • Neither spouse is seeking spousal support, and
  • There is agreement between the spouses that the marriage is broken and that they want a simplified dissolution of marriage.

 

In an uncontested Florida divorce, the spouses can waive the requirement for exchange of financial documents but still must file a financial affidavit.  Overall this can save a considerable amount of time.

 

  • Contested Divorce—
    Should there be any physical violence in the history of the marriage, or physical or emotional intimidation of any type, then a contested divorce is an absolute necessity. Abusers in a marriage rarely give the victim the opportunity to express himself or herself without feeling they are being threatened. When physical violence is a part of the marriage, it can be extremely difficult for the parties to discuss anything regarding the pending divorce. The spouse who has been subject to physical violence will often accept terms or conditions that are not beneficial and may be downright unfair just to remove herself from the situation. There is little true negotiation in a marriage in which intimidation and violence are present, therefore a contested divorce with an attorney who zealously protects his client’s rights is essential. Another reason for a contested divorce would be a spouse who refuses to communicate about the details of the divorce. Some spouses believe if they simply refuse to talk about the divorce then it won’t happen. When one spouse refuses to negotiate in any way, then it will be impossible to reach an equitable settlement. In short, no agreements should be reached when either party is under any sort of pressure, including any form of emotional blackmail. Often one spouse is very controlling and will attempt to “steamroll” the other into an agreement. Having an experienced divorce attorney is critical to this process—a contested divorce absolutely requires a divorce attorney who is aware of all the details of your particular situation. Many divorces are contested, not because there is domestic violence involved or because one partner is emotionally blackmailing the other, but simply because the two parties cannot agree on the specifics of the divorce—child custody, spousal support, asset division and so on. When there are issues the couple cannot agree on, the matters can take many months to be heard and may depend on which part of the state you reside in. The extremely populated areas such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Boca Raton have judges with hundreds of cases on the docket, meaning it can take a significant length of time of get each hearing scheduled.

 

An uncontested divorce can take about ten days to prepare; after your Ayo and Iken attorney files the petition with the court, the final hearing will be scheduled to finalize the divorce. Depending on the judge’s backlog, an uncontested divorce could be finalized in as little as a month, or as long as three months.

 

Contested to Uncontested Via Mediation

 

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The big question relating to how long the divorce will take applies primarily to contested divorces. In many cases a contested divorce will eventually end up as an uncontested divorce (without benefit of the fast-track uncontested divorce procedure). This is because a contested divorce must go through the entire system, which entails many steps on the way to a mediation conference. Mediation conferences have a strong emphasis on settlement, and the majority of cases do settle at mediation. If this occurs, then the entire process could last from 5-8 months.

 

And Finally…The Divorces That Go to Trial

 

Approximately one out of every hundred Florida divorces will go to trial, and in most jurisdictions in the state a divorce will take about a year to get to trial. It could be less—as little as five months, but could also take years, depending on the judge’s caseload. There are things you can do to speed up the process, even if your divorce is that one in every hundred going to trial, including:

 

  • Make sure your financial documents are complete, and properly prepared, and that you have them ready to go at the beginning of the case. The majority of delays in Florida divorces are due to missing or poorly prepared documents.
  • Make sure to communicate with your attorney.
  • When your attorney asks you for something, have it ready to go quickly—preparation is a key way to speed up your divorce process.
  • Avoid taking an outlandish child custody position, and never make accusations of domestic violence child abuse or parental alienation unless they are true.
  • Keep up with the deadlines and respond to information requests.
  • As hard as it may be, cooperation with your spouse will definitely speed things up. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything your spouse requests, only that you avoid taking the hardline on every single issue.
  • Consider mediation. Major sticking points in the divorce process can often be minimized or even eliminated through mediation, and if all issues can be ironed out, you can avoid the divorce trial altogether.
  • Pay your attorney on time. Honestly, would you work as hard for someone who refused to pay you? People tend to pay more attention to things that are worth their while. If you keep putting off paying your attorney, he or she may naturally pay less attention to your case.

 

To summarize average times for each step of a Florida divorce:

 

  1. Uncontested Florida divorce:
  • Preparation of divorce—average of 3 weeks.
  • Filing the divorce—instant.
  • Time to wait for a final hearing—1-3 months.
  • Total time necessary for an uncontested divorce—2-5 months.

 

  1. Divorce—Initially Contested:
  • Video Thumbnail
    Preparation of divorce—approximately four weeks. A contested filing is generally more intense than an uncontested filing. You must have extensive financial documentation, and the accuracy of these documents is crucial.
  • Filing the divorce—Instant
  • Service of Petition and Summons—One to three weeks. If your spouse is avoiding being served, or dodging service, this can lengthen the process by a month or more. Generally speaking, a private process server is faster and more resourceful than the local sheriff’s deputies.
  • Answer period—Twenty days, once the Summons and Petition have been served on the other party. There are, however many legal ways to significantly delay answering the Petition.
  • Financial Disclosure and discovery—Ninety days. Both sides will be required to send the other a barrage of financial documents, including retirement account statements, tax returns and paycheck stubs. Depositions can draw out the divorce, as can interrogatories which fly back and forth with a primary goal of annoying your spouse.
  • Parenting Course—The state of Florida requires a four-hour parenting course by both parents.
  • Mediation—Four to five months from the date the Petition for Divorce is filed. Mediation is considered semi-voluntary, since the state of Florida requires mediation in all divorce cases. If the divorce settles at mediation, the time for your divorce will be significantly shortened.
  • Final hearing—Usually takes place four to six months after the case begins, assuming mediation was successful.

 

  1. Divorce—Contested:
  • Preparation of divorce—approximately four weeks. A contested filing is generally more intense than an uncontested filing. You must have extensive financial documentation, and the accuracy of these documents is crucial.
  • Filing the divorce—Instant
  • Service of Petition and Summons—One to three weeks. If your spouse is avoiding being served, or dodging service, this can lengthen the process by a month or more. Generally speaking, a private process server is faster and more resourceful than the local sheriff’s deputies.
  • Answer period—Twenty days, once the Summons and Petition have been served on the other party. There are, however many legal ways to significantly delay answering the Petition.
  • Financial disclosure and discovery—Ninety days to nine months. Both sides will be required to send the other a barrage of financial documents, including retirement account statements, tax returns and paycheck stubs. Generally, in an openly contested divorce, this financial disclosure and discovery period will be much longer—the financial disclosure requests are much more detailed and can go back for more years. Delays during this period are common, and may be used as a strategic weapon in the divorce—one partner may think they will simply wear the other down until he or she agrees to their requests. Depositions are common in a high-conflict case, and can require significant time and money.
  • Parenting Course—The state of Florida requires a four-hour parenting course by both parents.
  • Preparation for the divorce trial and the actual trial—The trial can last between four hours and two weeks, however preparation for the trial is usually a minimum of five months, and often more.

 

As you can see, the length of time it takes you to get divorced in the state of Florida is dependent on a number of issues. The best choice you can make early on in the divorce process is to hire a highly experienced, knowledgeable Florida family law attorney to help guide you through the divorce maze.

I was a little in doubt until I saw him do a deposition of my spouse. It was brutal !! From that point on everything went my way. My kids are finally safe from my drug addict wife. Nice job

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