If you are considering divorce, you may have a lot of questions about the process. What are the requirements? How long will it take?
The good news is that Florida does not have a lot of requirements, unlike other states, which may require a long residency period, a cooling down period, or a valid reason for the divorce. Florida is a no-fault state, which means that you do not have to prove adultery, bigamy, fraud or any other issue. There are just two grounds of divorce in Florida. the most common one is that the marriage is irretrievably broken. You can simply use the term “irreconcilable differences” as your reason for divorce. The other ground is mental incapacity. if your spouse has been incapacitated for the past three years, you have the ability to file for divorce under Florida law.
The only requirement is that you or your spouse is a Florida resident for at least six months before filing for divorce. This means that if you just moved to Florida and decide you want to divorce there, you will have to wait a few months. However, if you have lived in the state for many years or your entire life, then you have nothing to worry about.
Given that you meet this requirement, how long will the process take? Each divorce is different, and there are many factors involved. A divorce could take many months or even years. This is especially true if it is a contested divorce, where one party wants to divorce but the other does not.
While there are no hard and fast rules for how long your divorce will take from start to finish, there are some things that can shorten or lengthen the process. If you want to end your marriage as quickly as possible, then here are some things to consider.
If you and your spouse are in agreement on the main issues in your divorce, then your divorce is uncontested. If you live in Florida, you can make things easier on yourself by opting for a streamlined, simplified divorce. However, you must meet all of the following conditions:
- Both spouses are in agreement that there is no chance of reconciliation and that divorce is the only option.
- There are no minor children involved. The wife cannot be pregnant.
- Neither spouse plans to seek alimony.
- Neither party requires any additional financial information.
- Both parties have agreed to a division of assets and debts.
- Both are willing to give up their rights to trial and appeal.
- Both agree to sign the petition (which can be done separately or together)
- Both agree to attend a final hearing.
If all eight conditions apply, the couple must then file the appropriate paperwork and set a date and time for a court appearance. At this hearing, both spouses are required to appear together. If everything is in order, the judge may sign a Final Judgment of Simplified Dissolution of Marriage, which finalizes the divorce. If everything goes as planned, the divorce can be finalized in as little as four or five weeks.
Factors that can Lengthen the Divorce Process
Conflicts will make the process longer and more stressful – not to mention more expensive. If you can act amicably, make compromises, communicate well, and come to an agreement with your spouse, your divorce will be much shorter than if you fight over every little thing. Mediation can help in this regard.
If there is a backlog of cases in the court, this can impact your divorce timeline, as well. The case has to be put on the court calendar, and if you live in a larger city in Florida, such as Orlando or Miami, you could be waiting weeks or even months.
The divorce process could also take longer if it is believed that one spouse is hiding something. If you think that your husband or wife may have assets that have not been disclosed, such as bank accounts or heirlooms, you will want to bring this up to your lawyer. This will involve discovery on your part, which will take extra time. However, it is better to make sure that all assets have been disclosed so you do not miss out on your fair share of the property. After all, people have been known to hide money and valuable items in a divorce.
Divorces can take longer if there are significant assets involved. For example, if one spouse has a business, the couple owns multiple houses or vehicles, or there are millions of dollars in assets accumulated over the course of a decades-long marriage, dividing these assets fairly can take a long time. The same goes for issues involving child custody when minor children are involved.
It is also important to ensure your divorce forms are filled out completely, accurately, and on time. The family law attorney knows all about divorces and can help speed up the process.
Seek Legal Help
There are factors that can simplify the divorce process or make it much longer. If your goal is to get divorced as quickly as possible, you may have to make some compromises, especially if your spouse is willing to let the process drag on.
Discuss your divorce goals with Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler. He can assess your situation and see if your divorce can be resolved with mediation or some other means, without having to go to court. Contact his office at (954) 346-6464.