In a Florida divorce, you essentially have two options, contested divorce or an uncontested divorce. If you file for an uncontested divorce, this means that both spouses agree on all of the terms of the divorce and simply file their divorce in a family court. If this is not the case, then the spouses must go through a contested divorce process. This means that the terms of the divorce will be determined through a contested hearing, and contested divorces are by far the most complicated option out of the two.
What Is the Process of a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce is not guaranteed to follow this process strictly, and you will have a better understanding of what to expect for your divorce after working with a family law attorney. However, generally, the process of a contested divorce will consist of the following steps:
Serving the Divorce Papers
Before the process officially begins, you will work with your attorney to draft, finalize, and ultimately serve your spouse divorce papers. You will then need to wait a period of time for them to respond, at which point we can officially begin the divorce.
In discovery, there will be an extended period of time where you, your spouse, and any associated third parties will need to produce an extensive amount of documentation and information pertinent to the divorce. This could include responding to subpoenas, completing written interviews, or attending depositions.
After discovery is finished, you will work with your lawyer to develop your case, identify possible roadblocks that might hinder your ability to prevail in court and work to build the argument that supports the various terms you are requesting in the divorce. There will also be motions submitted from both sides requesting additional information or hearings to clarify the nature of the marriage and divorce.
Settlement Proposal and Negotiation
Once you and your lawyer have developed a settlement that you think is fair and just, you will submit the proposal to your spouse and their lawyer and begin the negotiation process to reach a middle ground between each of your proposal and your spouse's proposal. Ideally, you will reach an agreement at this stage of the process instead of going to a full hearing. If you are unable to reach a settlement, then your case will go to trial.
At this stage, you and your attorney will meet to prepare for the trial. You will go over the testimony and physical evidence like text messages, photographs, and the attorney should explain what their strategy is.
The Contested Hearing
Throughout the hearing, your attorney will argue on your behalf to ensure that you are given a fair ruling from the judge. Your attorney's job is to apply the facts and evidence in your case to the law. At the end of the trial, the judge will make a legally binding ruling and settle all issues of your divorce. At this point, the divorce is considered final unless there is a portion of the judge's ruling that is appealable.
Helping You Gain the Freedom and Peace of Mind You Deserve
Suppose you are starting the process of a divorce in Orlando, and it seems that you will end up in court with a contested divorce. In that case, you must contact an experienced divorce lawyer in Orlando today. While any divorce can be complicated and sometimes messy, a contested divorce will require competent legal representation in and out of court to move towards a good outcome. In a contested divorce, you and your spouse will disagree on many details, and you must be confident in your legal representation to protect your interests and fight for what you deserve.
If you have questions about your divorce, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation with an experienced Orlando 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.