If you and your spouse have made the decision to part ways, find out just how long does it take for a divorce to finalize in Florida.
Getting married can be a fantastic journey. Sometimes, however, that journey must come to an end to open doors for new adventures.
In the United States, somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.
During and after a divorce, it’s not uncommon to go back and forth between feelings of giddiness and devastation. Plus, it’s reasonable to want the process to be over with as soon as possible.
If you and your partner have reached a point where you know divorce is the answer, you’re probably wondering, “How long does it take for a divorce?”
This guide will tell you all about ending your marriage in Florida and how long it takes to finalize a divorce.
How Long Does It Take for a Divorce to Finalize?
There’s no specific answer for how long finalizing a divorce takes. It depends significantly on the type of divorce and the route you opt to take.
It also depends on your state. Some states have laws that require a 6-month waiting period from the time you file your paperwork. In Florida, however, it can take anywhere from a few months to years.
Incompatibility, infidelity, and money issues are 3 of the main reasons why people split.
How long a divorce takes depends on the reasons behind the divorce, and on factors like whether or not the divorce is contested.
Let’s take a look at what those different circumstances entail so you can better determine where you and your partner’s divorce can be categorized.
A Simplified Divorce
A simplified divorce is the fastest divorce process. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it is the quickest route to end your union.
It only works if you have no children under 18, no dependents and if neither spouse seeks alimony. The wife can’t be pregnant, and at least one partner must have lived in the state of Florida for the previous 6 months.
Plus, you both have to agree to the divorce in the first place. For it to work, you must agree on the division of your properties. Once you both submit a petition with financial affidavits, the court will set a hearing about 20 days later.
At that hearing, the divorce will be finalized, as long as everything you submitted was correct.
In Florida, the process is called a “Simplified Dissolution of Marriage.” The process eliminates any rights to a trial or appeals and takes about 30 days from beginning to end.
An Uncontested Divorce Case
An uncontested divorce case is similar to a simplified divorce in that both spouses are in complete agreement on every detail. There must be no disputes or discrepancies.
Both partners must agree on any child support or alimony to be paid, child custody, division of liabilities, division of assets, who gets tax exemptions, and any other details addressed. For a divorce to be uncontested, there can’t be any arguing, any unresolved issues, or any competitions.
Both spouses have to cooperate, work together to fix any paperwork, and sign everything in a timely and efficient manner. Uncontested divorces are quick, just like simplified ones. They can be even faster with the help of an attorney because attorneys have the power to control the scheduling.
Filing is instant, but it can take a few weeks to prepare the paperwork. A final hearing typically occurs 3 months after the paperwork is filed, so the divorce process takes approximately 4 months to complete.
An Initially Contested Divorce
Initially contested divorce cases are the most common types of Florida divorces. They’re prepared in the traditional manner, where paperwork is filed with the court, and then the other spouse gets served.
That means a private process server will personally deliver those documents to the other spouse. They may or may not be prepared for that moment.
In this type of divorce, the circumstances can be quite different from one couple to the next. The commonality, however, is that something’s contested. It doesn’t matter how many issues are contested or if both spouses agree they want a divorce.
If there’s even just one single issue that’s disagreed upon, the case is contested. A common reason for this has to do with finances. More often than not, both parties are in agreement on the divorce but aren’t in agreement as to how the money will get broken up.
Luckily, most cases that are initially contested settle at a “halfway point” during the divorce process. The halfway point usually involves mediation, where both spouses come to an agreement over their disputes. Once those issues are settled, the case then becomes an “uncontested case.”
How Long Does It Take to Finalize a Divorce That Goes From Contested to Uncontested?
A divorce that’s initially contested can take more time if the receiving party hides from the process server. Believe it or not, many spouses who aren’t ready to accept their spouse’s desire for divorce will dodge getting hit with the paperwork.
This process can extend the divorce process by a month. Process servers are fast and resourceful, though, so a spouse has to be quite tricky in their methods to keep dodging the server.
Once the other party receives the Summons and Petition, they have 20 days to file their answer. Next comes the discovery process, including financial disclosure, which takes approximately 3 months. Both sides must send the other party a set of financial documents, such as pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, and retirement account statements.
Cases that are fully contested have more time-consuming requirements, so the process can take longer.
If there are children involved, the state of Florida requires a 4-hour parenting course for both parties before they can finalize a divorce.
If mediation is required, it’ll usually occur 4 to 5 months after filing. Most contested cases come to a conclusion at this point.
Florida requires mediation in all contested divorce cases, and it can be done through a private mediator or the courthouse. Opting to go with a private mediator can save some time in the divorce process.
The final hearing in an initially contested case usually occurs 4 to 6 months after the beginning of the case. It’s the last state of the divorce process, so technically, your divorce could be over in less than 6 months.
What Can Slow Down or Speed up the Process?
Here are some things which can speed up or slow down the process:
- The accuracy of documents
- Coming to an agreement in mediation
- Failure to follow the procedures (either party or both)
- Availability of the judge
Attorneys have an in with judges in that it’s much easier for them to call and grab a date. If neither spouse has an attorney, the flow and timing could be a little more up in the air.
Contested Divorces Take the Longest
Contested divorces are the long, drawn-out battles you hear about from friends or watch on TV dramas.
Some of these cases go to trial, but either way, the process is usually long and unpredictable.
Finalizing a divorce that’s contested can take anywhere from 9 months to 3 years. Once in a while, a contested divorce in Florida will take 5 or 6 years, but that’s rare.
The First Half of a Contested Divorce Case
The first half of a contested divorce case takes about 3 to 9 months. It looks similar to that of an initially contested case in that the case has to be prepared, filed, and then served.
Financial disclosure can take months, and the court always orders mediation in the state of Florida.
Because things are contested, the process is more extensive, detailed, and can go back and forth for quite some time. One or both sides could refuse disclosure requests and end up going back and forth to court. Sometimes, a delay is even used as a strategic weapon.
Depositions and Trials
If either side conducts a deposition, it usually means there’s significant conflict. During depositions, both attorneys ask questions, a court reporter types everything, and the process can take a lot of money and time.
The final trial of a contested case can take anywhere from 4 hours to 2 weeks. Usually, they last about a day. The preparation, however, can take up to a year. Typically though, it’s more like 5 months.
As you can see, there’s a lot of variation in Florida divorce case lengths, especially concerning contested cases.
How Long Does It Take for a Divorce to Finalize in Florida?
How long does it take for a divorce to finalize in Florida? The average length is about 6 months. But as you can see from the many different types of cases and circumstances that arise, the divorce process can take 4 months or 4 years.
If you’re anxious to finalize your divorce, the best thing both parties can do is, be honest in their disclosures and willing to negotiate.
Are you ready to get started and want to know how we can help? Even if both parties are in agreement, divorce can be emotionally and physically draining.
Contact us with any questions or concerns. We are here to make your divorce process as easy for you as we can.