Florida Divorce Timeline
When considering a divorce, many people have questions about the timeline. How long will the divorce take? Do we have to wait a certain amount of time before we see the judge? I hired an attorney, but nothing seems to be started, yet, what’s the hold up? I hope to answer some of these questions so that you can have a better understanding of the overall process.
A divorce begins when the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed. A divorce does not begin when an attorney is retained or hired. The attorney needs time to evaluate the best way to approach your case specifically.
The wording of the Petition is important, so while the attorney is working on creating this document, from which the divorce will begin, there will be a period of time between hiring the attorney and the filing of the Petition. This timeframe varies on the complexity of the issues involved in the case. An attorney might begin writing the Petition, and realize she needs more information. At that point, the attorney needs to contact you, either directly or indirectly through the office staff. You will need to be honest with the attorney, and the staff, in order to make the process flow smoothly.
Once the Petition is complete, the attorney might have you review it prior
to filing, in some cases
the information will need to be verified; signing the Petition under a statement that typically
declares you have read the Petition and the facts in it are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief accomplishes this. At this point, the Petition can be filed with the court.
Let’s assume this takes two weeks to accomplish because you and the
attorney have been playing
phone-tag or your schedule has prevented you from getting to the office to verify the Petition.
Next, the Petition must be served on the other party. This might take some time, depending on
the circumstances. For instance, if the party does not wish to be divorced, he/she might avoid
service of the documents. Once a party is served with a Petition, he has 20 days to file an
answer. When answering the Petition, he might want to include other issues by providing a
counter-petition at the same time. In this case, you will have 20 days to file an answer to the
counter-petition. Let’s assume this is the case, this process could take 40 days total, if there are
no problems with serving the other party.
Mandatory Disclosures and Financial Affidavits are due within 45 days from
the filing of the
Petition. Unless one party is requesting Temporary Financial Relief, then these documents are
due before that hearing. In order to assure compliance with deadlines, some attorneys will
choose to wait to file the Petition until you have provided all the required documents.
So, based on the above deadlines, the process for getting a divorce started can take some time.
You should be prepared to wait at least a month before really getting the ball rolling. But that
does not mean you should just sit by and wait; instead you should expect to be quite busy with
gathering the required documents for your attorney while she prepares the Petition. Please
follow the links above to discover what documents you will be expected to provide.