Experienced Divorce Attorney in Orlando, FL
Eligibility for Divorce
In Florida, either spouse can file for a divorce at any time and for nearly any reason. Florida is one of many states that has abolished the need to prove fault in order to obtain a divorce.
All that has to be proved is that a marriage exists, one party has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the divorce petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.
The divorce process begins with a petition for divorce, filed with the circuit court by the husband or wife, which states that the marriage is irretrievably broken and presents certain requests to the court. The other spouse must file an answer within a certain period of time.
Discovery in Divorce
Court rules governing divorce require that the parties exchange certain financial documents within a specified time frame. Failure to provide this information can result in the court dismissing the divorce or not considering that party’s requests. In divorces with children, an accurate child support guideline worksheet must also be filed before the final divorce hearing. This requirement may not be waived by the parties or the court.
If the parties can come to an agreeement on property division, child custody, and other post-divorce arrangements before or soon after the original petition is filed, a divorce can become final in a matter of a few weeks. This type of case is known as an uncontested divorce. An attorney can help you and your spouse get your ideas down on paper in the form of an enforceable agreement and help you get your agreement judicially reviewed and approved. Uncontested divorce can save you a lot of time, money, and aggravation as compared to a contested divorce.
Sometimes you are unable to communicate well enough with the other spouse to reach an agreement on all issues. This type of case is known as a contested divorce. Parties in a contested divorce are generally referred to mediation.
Mediation is a procedure to assist you and your spouse in working out an agreement without a trial. Its purpose is not to save a marriage, but to help you arrive at agreeable terms for finalizing the divorce. Divorce mediation can be preferable to a court trial because both parties play an active role in settlement negotiations. Mediation is conducted by a neutral third party.
During the mediation process, the mediator will act as a go-between between the two parties and their divorce attorneys. The mediator’s goal is not necessarily to reach the “fairest” decision or to achieve the same outcome as a judge, but instead to faciliate a compromise among the parties. It is important to have the benefit of an experienced divorce lawyer so that you understand your rights and your options when you participate in mediation. A divorce attorney can help you from inadvertently giving up certain rights, suggest solutions and compromises to issues that commonly arise in mediation, and inform you of the likelihood of certain outcomes if you are considering going to trial on an issue.
It is rare to have a mediation agreement set aside after it is signed by the parties, so you should absolutely have an attorney help you with your mediation. A divorce attorney can help you get the best possible outcome in your divorce.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement in the divorce mediation, then a trial may be required. In these cases, the judge makes the final decision on contested issues in the divorce.
Get a Legal Strategy
The divorce process can be highly emotional and traumatic for everyone it touches. Marriage partners often do not know their legal rights and obligations. Court clerks and judges might be able to answer some of your basic questions but are prohibited from giving legal advice. Only your lawyer is allowed to do that.
Statutory requirements, court rules, and administrative orders that relate to the divorce must be strictly followed or you may lose certain rights forever. It is recommended that you hire an attorney to advise you about your rights in divorce, especially as they relate to your children, your property, alimony, and tax consequences. Call DeVoe Law Firm to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney.
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