estranged coupleThis is the next post in my series on the question of how long a Florida divorce may take. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you are considering ending a marriage. It is important that you speak with counsel as the longer you wait to begin the process then the greater the impact on issues such as the division of property and the determination of spousal support. In this article I will address how long an uncontested divorce may take in our state. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne lawyer.

Florida spouses may file for a “simplified divorce” if they have no children

Florida allows spouses to file for a “simplified divorce” if there are no children in the marriage and neither spouse is currently pregnant. This process can be completed as long as one of the spouses has resided in our state for at least six months. This process involves the parties, as Co-Petitioners, filing the necessary documents with the Court. These documents will include the Petition, a marital settlement agreement, and a financial declaration from each spouse. A hearing will be held, no less than twenty days after the Petition is filed, and each party will be required to attend. These hearings are typically a brief formality in which the Court ensures that each spouse is amenable to the agreement. The Court will sign a Decree of Divorce once the hearing is completed.

It is important to understand that if errors are made in the completion of a simplified divorce then the spouses may find themselves going back to Court in the future. Consider the following example. Jack and Jill have been separated for several months and wish to complete the simplified process. During the marriage, each party contributed to an investment account that was in Jill’s name only. The parties do not include this investment account on their financial disclosures, or in their settlement agreement, because they consider it “Jill’s.” The truth of the matter, however, is that the account is marital property. Jack would be able to go back to court in the future and litigate division of the investment account. While this is a simple example, it demonstrates how errors in your marital settlement agreement can lead to future litigation. Retaining an attorney to assist you can help to prevent such errors.

Florida spouses who have children may complete an “uncontested divorce”

If spouses have children then they can still complete what is commonly referred to as an “uncontested divorce.” Before beginning this process, the spouses will typically sign a marital settlement agreement. This agreement will need to deal with issues such as marital property division, spousal support, as well as child custody and support. One spouse will then file a Petition for Divorce and serve it on the other party. A hearing will then be placed on the Court’s calendar and the marital settlement will be entered into the record. At the hearing, which is relatively brief, the Court will ask any questions it may have and complete the process. As with a simplified divorce, the final hearing can take place no earlier than twenty days after the case is filed.

Either of the aforementioned processes will typically take three to six weeks, depending on the Court’s schedule. Retaining an experienced attorney to assist you can help to ensure that the matter is handled correctly. This can help to prevent unnecessary delays as well as the need to go back to court in the future. As a Melbourne uncontested divorce lawyer, I regularly handle such matters. My office practices in no area other than domestic relations law and we will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us today for assistance. We also service clients in the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.