From filing a petition to having your case heard and decided by a judge, various stages are involved in the Florida divorce process. At different steps, you are required to take particular actions. Because family law courts are busy and need to maintain an efficient and fair system, these actions must be completed within a specific amount of time. If you fail to adhere to the deadlines set by law, your case may be dismissed.
In this blog, we will discuss the steps in a divorce proceeding and their deadlines.
Meeting the Residency Requirements
Before filing for a divorce in Florida, you must ensure that you meet the residency requirements. Under Florida Statutes § 61.021, if you are the person submitting a petition for dissolution of marriage, you must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing.
Serving Your Spouse with Divorce Papers
Once you meet the residency requirements, you can file your divorce petition with the court. The petition is a document explaining that you are asking for some legal action to take place (in this case, terminating your marriage). You also state the relief you are seeking. For example, you may request that you want property divided a certain way.
You must ensure that you serve a copy of the petition to your spouse. To "serve" your spouse with papers essentially means that you are giving them notice that you have begun the divorce proceedings. If you know where your spouse is, you must have a deputy sheriff or private process server deliver the documents to them.
The service step must be done soon after you submit your petition to the court. If your spouse is never notified, your divorce cannot move forward.
Filing a Response
After your spouse is served with the divorce papers, they can file an answer.
Depending on the situation, the response can take a couple of forms. Your spouse may agree with the conditions you stated in your petition – this is referred to as an uncontested divorce. Or, they may disagree with the relief you are requesting and submit a counterpetition.
However your spouse intends to answer, they have 20 days after being served to do so. If they do not respond within that time, you can file a Motion for Default. Essentially, a Motion for Default is a request to the court to move forward with your case and have a judge decide on the issues presented in your petition without your spouse's input.
Filing an Answer to Counterpetition
If your spouse files a counterpetition, you should submit a response. You have 20 days to do so.
The next phase of the divorce process is disclosure. At this stage, you and your spouse exchange information and documents pertinent to your divorce. Generally, this means providing your spouse and/or their attorney with your financial details, such as pay stubs, credit card and bank statements, and income tax information.
The disclosure phase ensures that each party has the information they need to seek a fair and just resolution to the case. Disclosure must take place within 45 days after filing your petition for divorce. If you fail to meet this deadline, the court may not consider the requests you are making. It may also dismiss your case.
At the Law Office of Russell S. Hershkowitz, LLC, we understand that you have a lot on your mind during this emotionally difficult time. That is why we will attend to all the details of your case and ensure that the required forms are completed and filed timely.
For the legal representation you need in Altamonte Springs, call us at (407) 753-4111 or contact us online today. We offer a free initial consultation.