In most divorce cases, the two parties come to an agreement about how to split property and debt, how to share parental responsibilities and costs, and what, if any, alimony needs to be paid. However, if differences arise and one of both parties dispute any of these particulars, the divorce is contested.
Contested Divorces Take Longer
A contested divorce almost always takes longer than an uncontested divorce. This makes sense, since the disputes need to be resolved before the divorce can be finalized. Contested divorces can take up to four times as long, or about a year or more, than uncontested or mediated divorces. Usually, this longer timeframe is the result of court scheduling and hearing dates. The more numerous the disagreements, the more court hearings are necessary, thus prolonging divorce proceedings.
Contested Divorces Cost More
Divorce expenses increase the longer the process takes. Both parties will incur more legal fees the more often their lawyers need to prepare for hearings and court appearances, and court fees will also pile up. There’s also the in-between stage, when you’re separated but the divorce is not yet final, when spouses are often physically separated but still financially intertwined. Expenses often double to support two households. Luckily, the parties can request temporary financial relief, such as temporary child support or temporary alimony, if applicable. Explore that option if need be, to alleviate your financial burden.
How the Divorce Process Begins
The first step to filing for divorce is finding effective and experienced representation. Free consultations can be tempting, but know that you’ll only get very general advice so if you know that you’re moving forward, you’re best to spend your time finding the right attorney for you. Look for a law group that embraces your approach to your divorce, especially those who has experience handling divorce cases both in and out of the courtroom. Most divorces never become litigious, but finding a lawyer with experience will you give the peace of mind to move forward with confidence.
The second step in a divorce proceeding is delivering a summons of dissolution of marriage. A process server completes this task. Once received, your spouse typically has twenty days to respond with an answer or counterpetition, unless he or she applies for and is granted an extension.
Third, financial documents must be gathered and submitted. These documents include bank statements, paycheck stubs, tax returns, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, and deeds or other property documentation.
Next, the court will send you and your spouse to mediation, which is required in Florida. This informal process involves you and your spouse, along with each party’s representation. The goal is to resolve all disputes in order to avoid a trial. Pazos Law Group is experienced in this process and can help you use mediation to your benefit. We have seen the benefits of this process, especially for parties who want to move forward with as little trauma as possible. If mediation fails, the divorce is contested and is then handled by the court.
Preparation for divorce court can take months, a process that involves gathering witnesses and evidence and scheduling with the court. This process can take several months. Once the trial begins, it can wrap up in hours or weeks, depending on the particulars of the case.
Throughout this process, contested or uncontested, mediated or in divorce court, expert legal representation is vital, time-saving, and money-saving. We encourage you to schedule an initial consultation with us. Let us help you decide what will work best for you and for your family.