ORLANDO DIVORCE LAWYER
Divorce Means to Legally End a Marriage
divorce technically means to end a marriage. Of course, ending the marriage is
one of many issues which necessarily arise as result of a divorce. The
most common are
property division. The state of Florida is a "no-fault" divorce state. This means
that, unlike in earlier years, neither party need be at fault in order
to obtain a divorce. This eliminates the need to air out marital grievances
that have no relevance to the issues in the case. For example, if one
of the spouses is a terrible housekeeper, this has no relevance to whether
the opposing spouse is entitled to a divorce. Everyone in the state of
Florida is entitled to a divorce. In some rare instances, if one of the
parties has been adjudicated mentally incompetent, a
guardianship must be filed before the divorce action to fully protect the rights of
the incompetent spouse.
The Other Spouse Cannot Refuse to Get Divorced
As stated above, the opposing spouse cannot refuse to agree to the divorce.
Indeed, the consent of the other party is irrelevant to whether the divorce
can be finalized. Historically, there were many bars to getting divorced,
the consent of the opposing spouse being one of them. This is not the
case anymore which results in a more stream-lined procedure for dissolving
There is no waiting period or "cooling off" period that must
pass before a divorce can be finalized in Florida. In some cases, the
parties have already signed a
Marital Settlement Agreement
before they file their Divorce Petition. In those cases, they must wait
20 days to finalize the divorce unless they can show good cause or an
emergency exists which would waive the 20 day requirement. in most cases,
however, it takes several months to a year to finalize the divorce depending
upon the level of cooperation between the parties. For example, if one
party refuses to disclose financial documentation which is necessary to
analyze the distribution of assets, that may require one or several hearings
before the Judge before the documents are disclosed. This results in longer
wait times to obtain the final divorce decree.
The initial document that is filed with the Court is called a Petition
for Dissolution of Marriage. The Petition contains important information
about the date of marriage, the date of separation, and which issues the
parties need the Judge to decide such as child custody, alimony and property
distribution. The Petition is accompanied by various documents, the most
important of which is the Financial Affidavit. The Affidavit sets forth
the parties' income, monthly expenses, and assets and liabilities.
This becomes a very important document when the Judge orders child support,
alimony or other financial relief. Next, the opposing spouse is "served"
with the Petition. This means that a process server or a sheriff hand
delivers the document to the other spouse. You cannot serve your spouse
with the Petition. In some situations, however, the opposing party will
sign a paper which allows them to accept the documents without the necessity
of being "served".
Next, the opposing party has 20 days to respond to the Petition and file
their own Petition which is called a Counter-Petition for Dissolution
of Marriage. The Counter-Petition sets forth what the opposing party wants
the Judge to decide just like the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.
Within 45 days of filing, both parties must exchange financial information
unless they waive the right to exchange the information. The information
consists of tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements and other
similar financial documents. The documents only go back 3 to 12 months.
If further financial documentation is required, your attorney can request
The next step, after financial disclosure is to attempt to mediate the
issues, and if that process fails, the parties attend a divorce trial
where the Judge makes a determination of all the issues. The Judge renders
an Order resolving all of the outstanding issues which is called the Final
Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. Once the Final Judgment is finished,
the parties are officially divorced. Talk with your attorney at Marsh
Family Law about questions regarding this process and what your attorney
can do to obtain the best possible results for you and your family.
What is the difference between a "Contested" Divorce and an "Uncontested" Divorce?
Many people are able to fully resolve all of their issues pursuant to a
Marital Settlement Agreement. This is called an "Uncontested Divorce" since the parties are
not contesting any of the provisions regarding their Dissolution of Marriage.
To be able to resolve all issues between the parties is the best possible
scenario for both parties and the minor children, if any. Typically, however,
uncontested divorces occur when there are no minor children and no property
Conversely, when there are any unresolved and contested issues as a result
of the Dissolution of Marriage, this is called a "Contested Divorce".
This means that the parties were unable to agree upon some issues regarding
Child Support, or
Property Division, to name a few.
Life After Divorce
In some cases, one or both of the parties wishes to contest the provisions
contained in the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. This is called
an Appeal and is decided by the next higher court of jurisdiction called
the Appellate Court. If you are in a situation in which you need to file
an Appeal, talk with the lawyers of Marsh Family Law about the different
ways in which you can Appeal your Final Judgment. In other cases, the
terms of the Final Judgment need to be modified. Such issues include,
child support modification,
alimony modification and
child custody or visitation modification. There is very specific criteria which must be met before such Final Judgments
may be modified. Talk with your attorney if you are in need of a modification
to see if your case meets the standards which are necessary for such modification.