An uncontested Florida divorce is the simplest and quickest divorce in the state. Before I began writing about how long the process takes, it’s important to clarify a few issues. First, and most important, an uncontested divorce means just that. This is a situation where a married couples is in FULL agreement on every issue including assets, liabilities, child care, etc. There can be absolutely no disagreement about any issue that will be handled in the divorce. As you’d imagine, these are not the most common divorce scenarios in Florida.
If you’re interested in my philosophy on handling a divorce case, I’ve got a YouTube video for you to watch.
Most uncontested cases are really contested cases that become uncontested after the filing period and after a series of negotiations that may be resolved in a mediation. The number of issues that are disputed or contested are not important. It only takes one issue for the proceeding to be considered a contested divorce. In addition to the issues involved, the attitude of the parties play a major role in how quickly a divorce can be finalized. If one or both parties are holding out or become unreasonable this delays the resolution.
In terms of the length of time for the process to move forward, here are a few things to consider:
1)Once the divorce papers are served (I’ve known people who try to elude process servers which delays the process), the other party has 20 days to provide an answer.
2)The next stage is the financial disclosure documents which most couples find burdensome, invasive, and difficult. However, 90 days is usually the time allotted for both parties to submit their financial documents to the court.
3)If children are involved, Florida law requires both parents to complete a 4-hour parenting class which can be done at any time during the proceeding.
4)Florida law requires mediation for all divorces. Many cases are settled at mediation (between 70 and 90%). While the success of the mediation depends primarily on the willingness of the parties to compromise and negotiate in good faith, a good mediator can be a huge asset.
5)If mediation is unsuccessful, a final hearing on the matter will be set in approximately six months from the time the divorce papers were served. The judge will schedule the hearing depending upon his availability and caseload. In most instances, it is better for the parties involved to have the situation resolved before the final hearing but some cases still make it to this stage.
This leaves the type of divorce case you may read about in the papers. The high conflict cases will take longer and are more complicated and expensive as well as much more time consuming. Those cases will be the subject of another post at a later date.