If you and your spouse have decided to file for a divorce in Florida, you will have a few options regarding handling the process. The easiest and least stressful option is to work towards an uncontested divorce. It is less expensive, more cooperative, and much faster than the second option: a contested divorce.
An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse will work together before filing to finalize the divorce to agree on all of the essential terms of your divorce. You may both choose to have a divorce lawyer present or may opt to hire a neutral mediator to help you through the complicated and sometimes contentious issues that go into agreeing to the terms of a divorce.
Whichever option you and your spouse choose, at Florida Divorce Law Group, we can work with you to reach a fair and equitable outcome as efficiently as possible. Our average time to have a couple divorced when all issues are settled is around two weeks.
How Can I Have an Uncontested Divorce?
In order to have an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must agree to all of the pieces of your divorce. This does not mean that you both need to decide on everything right off the bat, only that you need to be willing to work together to come to an agreement. This willingness to collaborate is crucial.
What Are the Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce?
There are quite a few benefits to having a collaborative divorce, but below are a few of the main reasons that you should try this option before initiating a contested divorce:
Less expensive: During a contested divorce, you will have many meetings with your lawyer, a lot of court fees, and the possibility of many missed days of work. These all cost money, so you can have a significantly smaller financial burden when you do not need to go through a contested hearing.
Faster: If you can reach an agreement with your spouse quickly, you will be able to finalize your divorce in three months or less, depending on how long the family court takes to process it. During a contested divorce, you will be at the mercy of the courts for each date set in your hearing and any possible motion hearings that draw it out longer. Moreover, you have little control over the speed of these proceedings.
More cooperative: A divorce is never an easy process, and it is expected that you and your spouse will get emotional while trying to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce. That said, agreeing to find a common solution is a lot more collaborative than taking your disagreements to court, which can be too combative. Moreover, the emotional trauma of going through the contested hearing process can cause even more long-term damage between you and your spouse. There are times when couples are left with no option except a hearing, but you will have a lot less stress throughout the process if you can avoid this.
More control: When you leave your divorce conditions up to a judge, neither you nor your spouse is in charge of the decisions made about your lives. If you can reach an agreement through mediation and collaboration outside of court, you can both be confident that you were each in charge of the made decisions, instead of leaving the decisions to a neutral third party. This may not be an issue for everyone, but many people would prefer to be in charge of their divorce instead of leaving it up to a family court judge.
What Must We Agree On?
For you to manage a successful uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will need to agree on all of the significant terms of your divorce agreement.
This includes issues such as:
- Property division
- Asset division
- Debt division
- Child support
- Child custody
- Retirement benefits
Remember, you and your spouse don't have to agree on all terms regarding these factors at the outset. The critical thing to remember is that you will need to agree to work through these issues outside of court. Once you have reached an agreement, you will then submit your divorce to the court, where a judge will review the terms and finalize it.
What is the Process?
When you are ready to start the first step is to draft all the initial documents. This will include a petition, settlement agreement, answer, and other documents. Once these are filed the next step is to secure a court hearing for an uncontested divorce. At this hearing your lawyer, or the judge will ask you the following questions:
- How long have you been a resident of Florida?
- Is your marriage irretrievably broken?
- Are there are any minor children? Is the Wife pregnant?
- Did you sign a settlement agreement?
- Was it signed freely, and voluntary?
This hearing takes minutes. At the hearing, the judge will sign the Final Judgment. You are now officially divorced.
If you have questions about your uncontested divorce, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced Jacksonville divorce lawyer. At Florida Divorce Law Group, we practice family law throughout Florida, and we have consultation offices in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. We also have Zoom video meetings available, and of course phone consultations.